Accidental or Intentional

The ideal and preferred means of observing or fulfilling a halacha is called l'chatchila. Sometimes the halacha's requirements may be fulfilled b'di'avad (after the fact) under less-than-ideal circumstances. 
You may not intentionally do an action at the b'diavad level if you are able to do it at the l'chatchila level.
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I just read this halacha, Accidental or Intentional, at www.practicalhalacha.com. I think you will find it very interesting.