Depraved Indifference Law & Legal Definition


To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant's conduct must be 'so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendant’s conduct, not the injuries actually resulting.

In one case, People v Register, 60 NY2d 273, 469 NYS2d 599 (1983),while exploring the meaning of "depraved indifference recklessness" the Court of Appeals ruled that intoxication is not a defense or excuse to "depraved mind murder," although it may be to intentional murder. Its analysis started with distinguishing reckless manslaughter from the "depraved indifference recklessness" necessary for murder:

"to bring defendant’s conduct within the murder statute, the People were required to establish also that defendant’s act was imminently dangerous and presented a very high risk of death to others and that it was committed under circumstances which evidenced a wanton indifference to human life or a depravity of mind. . . . . The crime differs from intentional murder in that it results not from a specific, conscious intent to cause death, but from an indifference to or disregard of the risks attending defendant’s conduct." 60 NY2d at 274.