Definition of Criminal Negligence In Pennsylvania

In P.R. v. Dep't of Pub. Welfare, 569 Pa. 123, 801 A.2d 478 (2002), the Supreme Court set out the test for making that distinction; in order to prove abuse, Department of Public Welfare (DPW) is required to show, through substantial evidence, that the injury resulted from criminal negligence. Id. at 137-38, 801 A.2d at 486-87. The legislature has defined criminal negligence as follows: A person acts negligently with respect to a material element of an offense when he should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists or will result from his conduct. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the actor's failure to perceive it, considering the nature and intent of his conduct and the circumstance known to him, involves a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the actor's situation. 18 Pa. C.S. 302(b)(4).