wanton (wahn-t<<schwa>>n), adj. Unreasonably or maliciously risking harm while being utterly indifferent to the consequences. • In criminal law, wanton usu. connotes malice (in the criminal-law sense), while reckless does not. Cf. RECKLESS; WILLFUL. [Cases: Criminal Law 23; Negligence 275.C.J.S. Criminal Law § 38; Negligence §§ 98–103, 106–113, 913–914.]
“Wanton differs from reckless both as to the actual state of mind and as to the degree of culpability. One who is acting recklessly is fully aware of the unreasonable risk he is creating, but may be trying and hoping to avoid any harm. One acting wantonly may be creating no greater risk of harm, but he is not trying to avoid it and is indifferent to whether harm results or not. Wanton conduct has properly been characterized as ‘vicious’ and rates extreme in the degree of culpability. The two are not mutually exclusive. Wanton conduct is reckless plus, so to speak.” Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce, Criminal Law 879–80 (3d ed. 1982).
[Blacks Law 8th]