When discussing how criminal intent relates to the enforcement of environmental laws first you must know what criminal intent means. USLEGAL.COM defines criminal intent as “the intent to do something wrong or forbidden by law.” (Criminal Intent Law & Legal Definition) To help one understand the meaning of intent, it is when a person make the conscious decision to break the law. (What is CRIMINAL INTENT) With environmental laws and regulations, it states that one must knowingly commit an environmental crime in order to prosecute as a criminal. As discussed in the week three lecture notes we learned that under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, if a person is knowingly transporting hazardous waste without a warrant than that person could be prosecuted criminally and face up to two years in prison and up to a $50,000 a day fine.( Week Three Lecture Notes)
The main when it comes to prosecuting criminally the person must have criminal intent, which in environmental law they replace criminal intent with “knowing”. Each act has this written into it and it with its own fines and punishment. A prosecutor could also take the convection a step further by saying the person knowingly endangered. By knowingly endangering means that you knew that committing the act was illegal and by doing so you are endangering the human community, wildlife, and environment at the same time.
When a prosecutor decides whether to pursue a cade either civilly or criminally it takes a turn on which one they decide. The main factor to a case that involves a criminal prosecution is the amount of harm caused to the environment and the intent of the person who committed the crime. (Environmental Crime Prosecution: Results of a National Survey) With all criminal prosecutions, the prosecutor must present evidence that the person knowingly committed the crime. There are a couple factors that prosecutors take into account when deciding what type of case to pursue, these factor include
“actual harm that has an identifiable and significant harmful impact; threat of significant harm by an actual or threatened discharge, release, or emission; failure to report an actual discharge, release, or emission, coupled with actual or threatened environmental harm; and a single violation that represents a “trend or common attitude within the regulated community”.” (Solow, S. P)
As described in the week three lectures only “general” proof of intent is required that the person was aware that their actions were illegal. (Week Three Lecture Notes) It is easier to get a civil prosecution than a criminal prosecution because a criminal prosecution requires much more to go into it. Once the prosecutor has decided to prosecute the violator criminally the state’s attorney general becomes involved because the prosecutor seldom lacks the authority to prosecute. (The Criminal Process in Environmental Regulation)
When the prosecutor is considering pursuing an environmental case criminally, he needs...