708-824 Failure to control widely dangerous means. (1) A person commits the offense of failure to control widely dangerous means if, knowing that widely dangerous means are endangering life or property, the person negligently fails to take measures to prevent or mitigate the danger and:

(a) The person knows that the person is under an official, contractual, or other legal duty to take measures to prevent, control, or mitigate the danger; or

(b) The means were employed by the person or with the person's assent, or on premises in the person's custody or control.

(2) Failure to control widely dangerous means is a misdemeanor. [L 1972, c 9, pt of 1; gen ch 1993]




This section imposes misdemeanor liability upon a person for the negligent failure to prevent or mitigate danger resulting from the use of widely dangerous means where either (a) the actor is under some legal duty to do so, or (b) the actor is actually or constructively responsible for employing such means. This offense combines the Model Penal Code's offenses of "Failure to Control or Report a Dangerous Fire" and "Failure to Prevent Catastrophe."[1] The underlying premise is that a citizen's criminal liability for potential widespread destruction arises from the citizen's tortious or contractual liability with regard to the potential harm.

Hawaii previously had no statute dealing generally with the problems of catastrophe and the mitigation of the risk thereof but rather dealt separately with various substantive acts which represented a general public danger. The only general heading under which such offenses were grouped is "common nuisance," which included such widely dangerous aspects as spreading disease, making and storing gunpowder, blasting with explosives, and keeping dangerous animals.[2] In a similar vein, however, Hawaii provided a misdemeanor sanction for the failure of any able-bodied person to help combat a fire.[3] In simplifying and combining the above-mentioned sections of the Model Penal Code, this Code fills an apparently neglected area of Hawaii law.



708-824 Commentary:


1. M.P.C. 220.1(3) and 220.2(3), respectively.


2. H.R.S. 727-1.


3. Id. 185-8.



Previous Vol14_Ch0701-0853 Next