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Purposely Criminal Law Definition

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Under traditional common law, a person`s guilt or innocence depends on whether he or she committed the crime (actus reus) and intended to commit the crime (mens rea). However, many modern penal codes have created levels of mens rea called modes of guilt, which depend on the surrounding elements of the crime: behavior, circumstances and outcome, or what the Model Penal Code calls CAR (behavior, circumstances, outcome). The definition of a crime is therefore constructed solely on the basis of these elements and not on the colorful language of mens rea[5]: Mens Rea in the Indian Penal Code of 1860 defines the offences, the general conditions of liability, the conditions of exclusion of liability and the penalties for the respective offences. Legislators had not used the common law doctrine of mens rea to define these crimes. However, they preferred to import it using various terms that referred to the required evil intent or mens rea as the essence of a particular crime. Sometimes the criminal intent of the accused is not directed against the victim. Depending on the jurisdiction, this may result in the transfer of intent from the defendant of the intended victim to the subsequent victim for reasons of fairness (N.Y. Penal Law, 2011). Although this is a legal fiction, it may be necessary to achieve a fair result. The transferred intent is only relevant for crimes that require a bad result or sacrifice. In a case where intent is transferred, the accused may receive more than one criminal complaint, such as an « attempt » charge to commit a crime against the intended victim. The trial and transfer of intent are discussed in detail in Chapter 8, Immature Crimes.

Isabella, a housewife with no criminal record, sits quietly in court, waiting to hear the jury`s verdict in a trial for the rape of her teenage daughter by Ignatius. Ignatius was convicted of child rape in three previous cases. The president of the jury announces the decision in which Ignatius is found not guilty. Ignatius looks over Isabella`s shoulder and smiles. Isabelle calmly pulls out a loaded revolver from her purse and shoots and kills Ignatius. In this case, Isabella`s motive is revenge for the rape of her teenage daughter or the desire to protect other women from Ignatius` behavior. This motive produced Isabella`s criminal intent, which is malice or intent to kill. Despite Isabella`s motive, which is understandable under the circumstances, Isabella can be convicted of murder because she had to deal with the mens rea murder.

However, Isabella`s motive can be introduced during sentencing and lead to a reduced sentence such as life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. In addition, Isabella`s motive may influence a prosecutor`s decision to seek the death penalty in the first place, as this would likely be rejected by the public. Another element of most crimes is the requirement that the offense and criminal intent exist at the same time (California Criminal Jury Instructions No. 252, 2011). This element is called concurrency. Simultaneity is rarely an issue in law enforcement, as criminal intent usually generates the physical reaction (offence). However, in rare cases, the indictable offence and intent are separated in time, in which case there is no match and the accused cannot be convicted of a crime. Some have added a fifth mindset to the MPC classification: « strict liability. » Offences involving strict liability do not require culpability. The mere fact that an accused committed the crime is sufficient to satisfy any examination of his mental state. This absence of a guilty mind would act as the fifth and least reprehensible of the possible mental states.

In the case of an offence involving strict liability, it is sufficient for the prosecution to prove that the accused committed the unlawful act, regardless of his mental state. Therefore, culpable conduct is not relevant to a no-fault liability offence. Examples of strict liability offences in criminal law are often possession and legal rape. Many commentators criticize the conviction of the defendants on strict liability for lack of mens rea. Intent is notoriously difficult to prove because it is trapped in the defendant`s mind. Normally, the only direct evidence of intent is the confession of an accused, which the government cannot obtain by force because of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Witnesses who hear that the defendant expresses his intention often cannot testify because the rules of evidence prohibit hearsay. However, many jurisdictions allow conclusions about general intent to be drawn based on the criminal act (Commonwealth v. Ely, 2011). Essentially, if the jury accepts the finding, the prosecution does not have the burden of proof for a general intentional offence.

Thus, the actus reus and mens rea of homicide in a modern penal code can be considered as follows: malice is a particular intent of the common law aimed at a single crime: murder. The definition of malice is « intent to kill. » Society considers intent to kill to be the worst of intentions, so malicious crimes such as first- and second-degree murder typically require the harshest penalties, including the death penalty in jurisdictions that allow it. Intent and criminal murder are discussed in detail in Chapter 9, Criminal Homicide. Mens Rea refers to criminal intent. The literal translation of Latin is « guilty spirit. » The plural of mens rea is mentes reae. A mens rea refers to the state of mind required by law to convict a particular defendant for a particular crime. See, for example: Staples v. United States, 511 US 600 (1994). The determination of an offender`s mens rea is generally necessary to prove guilt in criminal proceedings.

As a general rule, the prosecution must prove beyond a doubt that the accused committed the crime with a guilty state of mind. Justice Holmes exemplified the concept of intent when he said, « Even a dog knows the difference between tripping and kicking. » Therefore, a crime committed intentionally would result in a heavier sentence than if the offender had acted knowingly, recklessly or negligently. The OAG has greatly influenced the penal codes of a number of states and continues to be influential in promoting the discourse on mens rea. Traditional common law definitions and modern definitions approach crime from different angles. Ruthless is less culpable than knowing, and reckless premeditated crimes are not as common as crimes that criminalize intentional and conscious behavior. The level of risk awareness is essential to distinguish a reckless intentional crime from a deliberate intentional crime. A defendant acts recklessly when it deliberately disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the bad result or damage will occur (Colo. Rev. Stat.

Ann., 2011). This is different from a deliberate intentional crime, where the defendant must be « virtually sure » of the bad results. The ruthless test of intent has two parts. First, the defendant must deliberately rule out a substantial risk of harm. The norm is subjective; The defendant must be aware of the significant risk. Second, the defendant must take an undue risk, which means that there is no valid reason for the risk. The scale of this cone is objective; If a reasonable person does not take the risk, then the defendant`s act is reckless. The Model Penal Code states: « The risk shall be of such a nature and magnitude that… their failure to comply implies a flagrant departure from the standard of conduct that a law-abiding person would observe in the author`s situation » (Model Criminal Code, § 2.02(2)(c)). The general rule at common law and in law is that « ignorance of the law or an error of law is not a defence to prosecution. » In some cases, however, courts have held that if knowledge of a law or intent to break a law is an essential part of a crime, a defendant may use good faith ignorance as a defence: While there are exceptions that will be discussed shortly, criminal intent or mens rea is an essential element of most crimes.

At common law, all crimes consist of an act committed with a guilty mind. In modern society, criminal intent can be the basis of guilt, and intentional punishment is a fundamental premise of criminal justice. As explained in Chapter 1 « Introduction to Criminal Law », classification often refers to the element of criminal intent. Crimes with « evil » intent are malum in se and subject the accused to the harshest punishment. Crimes that do not have the element of intent are rarer and are generally classified lower, either as misdemeanors or as violations. The standard test of criminal responsibility at common law is expressed in the Latin phrase actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, that is, « the act is guilty only if reason is guilty ». [1] As a general rule, a person who acted without intellectual fault is not criminally liable.