Knowingly Law & Legal Definition


The word “knowingly” in law means consciously or with knowledge or complete understanding of the facts or circumstances.

An individual is deemed to have acted knowingly in regard to a material element of an offense when

  • If the element involves the nature of his or her conduct or the circumstances attendant thereto, he or she is aware that the conduct is of such nature or that those circumstances exist
  • if the element relates to a result of the person's conduct, he or she is conscious of the fact that it is substantially certain that the conduct will precipitate such a result.

The following is an example of a state statute using the word "knowingly”:

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-16.7 Threats against executive, legislative, or court officers

(a) Any person who knowingly and willfully makes any threat to inflict serious bodily injury upon or to kill any legislative officer, executive officer, or court officer, shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished as a Class I felon.

(b) Any person who knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail any letter, writing, or other document containing a threat to inflict serious bodily injury upon or to kill any legislative officer, executive officer, or court officer, shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished as a Class I felon.

Example of a case law defining the term:

When the word "knowingly" is used , it means that the defendant realized what he was doing and was aware of the nature of his conduct and did not act through ignorance, mistake, or accident. Knowledge may be proved by the defendant's conduct and by all the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.[United States v. Kisting, 159 Fed. Appx. 725, 728 (7th Cir. Ill. 2005)]