Recklessness is the taking of a risk which can not be justified.

Recklessness is one of the four possible classes of mental state or levels constituting mens rea. The other three are Intention, Negligence and Strict Liability.

For all non-fatal offences this is known as 'Cunningham' or 'subjective' recklessness and refers to the conscious taking of an unjustified risk.

The definition of recklessness has developed from R v. Cunningham [1957] 2 QB 396 in which the definition of 'maliciously' for the purposes of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 was held to require a subjective test as opposed to an objective test. In this case a man released gas from the mains while attempting to steal money from the pay-meter. Because of his actions the gas leaked into the house next door, and partially asphyxiated the man's mother-in-law: In other words he was subjectively reckless about the risk involved.

The House of Lords, in Regina v. G and another (2003), laid down that the test for recklessness in criminal damage is the subjective test.  This overruled the objective test for recklessness when, between 1982 and 2003, criminal law recognised that where an ordinary prudent person would have realised the risk the defendant could then be guilty even if he did not realise the risk.  (Caldwell recklessness)

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