Caveat: My posting of this article is not meant to imply my agreement with it. Via Owning Your Shit:
Okay, so let’s pretend we’re talking about me, and what we’re talking about is me crashing my car into another vehicle, killing the driver. The act of crashing my car into his and killing him is the actus reus, and let’s say that this fact is not in dispute. Once it has been established that I did indeed crash my car into another and kill the driver, an investigation will be done (I would hope!), and the attendant circumstances examined, and it will only then be determined whether I have committed a crime.
Let’s say I undergo a breath test and am found to be legally impaired. In this case, I will be found to have the mens rea of recklessness—I engaged in conduct a law-abiding person would have refrained from, and that conduct resulted in a foreseeable death. I may be charged with a variety of crimes, based on my degree of inebriation and other circumstances—drunk driving causing death, vehicular manslaughter, reckless indifference homicide, etc.
Let’s say I live in a jurisdiction where it’s still legal to use a cell phone while driving, and I was on the phone when I crashed into him. If it can be determined I was paying more attention to my phone than the road, I will be found to have the mens rea of negligence—that is, a reasonable person would have been able to foresee the danger of my behavior and the harm it might cause. I will probably be charged with manslaughter.
Let’s say I drove through an intersection where a stop sign had been stolen or knocked over by vandals. If there was a wrongdoer in this case, it was certainly not me, and I have committed no crime …
Read more here.