Willful Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Willful, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Willful?

(adj) This adjective is used to represent an intentional action or non action with full presence of mind knowing all consequences of such action or non action. Normally it is used to represent an act or non action with a motive to do a crime.

History and Definition of Willful

The term "willful" is often used in legal contexts to describe a deliberate action or non-action with full knowledge of the consequences. Generally, it is used in the context of a crime or wrongdoing, indicating that the individual was aware of the nature of their actions and intended to commit the act regardless.

In many cases, willful conduct is deemed more serious than negligent conduct since it demonstrates a greater level of intent and awareness. The term can be tricky to apply, however, since proving intent can be challenging in certain circumstances.

Examples of Willful

  1. An employee who knowingly steals from the company's cash register is engaging in willful misconduct.

  2. A driver who runs a red light while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is said to have willfully endangered themselves and others.

  3. A parent who refuses to provide medical care for their child despite knowing that the child is seriously ill may be charged with willful neglect.

Legal Terms Similar to Willful

  1. Intentional: This term is often used as a synonym for willful and implies that the individual acted with a specific purpose in mind.

  2. Mens Rea: A Latin term meaning "guilty mind," mens rea refers to the mental state or intent of an individual at the time of the crime.

  3. Malicious: This term is often used to describe behavior that is intentionally harmful or destructive, without any justifiable reason.