intent

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Intent

A determination to perform a particular act or to act in a particular manner for a specific reason; an aim or design; a resolution to use a certain means to reach an end.

Intent is a mental attitude with which an individual acts, and therefore it cannot ordinarily be directly proved but must be inferred from surrounding facts and circumstances. Intent refers only to the state of mind with which the act is done or omitted. It differs from motive, which is what prompts a person to act or to fail to act. For example, suppose Billy calls Amy names and Amy throws a snowball at him. Amy's intent is to hit Billy with a snowball. Her motive may be to stop Billy's taunts.

The legal importance of what an individual intended depends on the particular area of law. In contract law, for example, the intention of the parties to a written contract is fixed by the language of the contract document.

In Tort Law, intent plays a key role in determining the civil liability of persons who commit harm. An intentional tort is any deliberate invasion of, or interference with, the property, property rights, personal rights, or personal liberties of another that causes injuries without Just Cause or excuse. In tort an individual is considered to intend the consequences of an act—whether or not she or he actually intends those consequences—if the individual is substantially certain that those consequences will result.

Basic intentional torts include Assault and Battery, conversion of property, false arrest, False Imprisonment, Fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and Trespass. It is ordinarily not necessary that any wrongful or illegal means be used to accomplish the negative result, provided the wrongful conduct was intentional and was not accompanied by excuse or justification.

In Criminal Law the concept of criminal intent has been called mens rea, which refers to a criminal or wrongful purpose. If a person innocently causes harm, then she or he lacks mens rea and, under this concept, should not be criminally prosecuted.

Although the concept of mens rea is generally accepted, problems arise in applying it to particular cases. Some crimes require a very high degree of intent, whereas others require substantially less. Larceny, for example, requires that the defendant intentionally take property to which the person knows he or she is not entitled, intending to deprive the rightful owner of possession permanently. On the other hand, negligent homicide requires only that the defendant negligently cause another's death.

Criminal law has attempted to clarify the intent requirement by creating the concepts of "specific intent" and "general intent." Specific Intent refers to a particular state of mind that seeks to accomplish the precise act that the law prohibits—for example, a specific intent to commit rape. Sometimes it means an intent to do something beyond that which is done, such as assault with intent to commit rape. The prosecution must show that the defendant purposely or knowingly committed the crime at issue.

General intent refers to the intent to do that which the law prohibits. It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the defendant intended the precise harm or the precise result that occurred. Thus, in most states, a defendant who kills a person with a gun while intoxicated, to the extent that the defendant is not aware of having a gun, will be guilty of second-degree murder. The law will infer that the defendant had a general intent to kill.

Criminal law dispenses with the intent requirement in many property-related crimes. Under Common Law the prosecution had to establish that the defendant intended to steal or destroy property. By 1900 many statutes eliminated the "intent-to-defraud" requirement for property crimes. Passing a bad check, obtaining property under False Pretenses, selling mortgaged property, and embezzling while holding public office no longer required criminal intent.

Criminal law and tort law share the concept of transferred intent. For example, if A shoots a gun at B, intending to strike B, but the bullet hits C, the intent to strike is transferred to the act of shooting C and supplies the necessary intent for either a criminal conviction or a civil tort action. Under the criminal doctrine of transferred intent, the intent is considered to follow the criminal act regardless of who turns out to be the victim. Under the tort doctrine of transferred intent, the defendant is liable for monetary damages to the unintended victim.

intent

n. mental desire and will to act in a particular way, including wishing not to participate. Intent is a crucial element in determining if certain acts were criminal. Occasionally a judge or jury may find that "there was no criminal intent." Example: lack of intent may reduce a charge of manslaughter to a finding of reckless homicide or other lesser crime.

intent

see INTENTION.
References in periodicals archive ?
He added that the organization of this event comes within the ongoing cooperation between SOCPA and the IMA reflecting their intentness to firmly establish the best accounting practices, and to expand, achieve, and enrich discussions and exchange of experiences between those who are competent and interested in the accounting profession.
The academy also hosts leadership programs based on John Wooden's Pyramid of Success, which is built on 15 blocks--competitive greatness, poise, confidence, condition, skill, team spirit, self-control, alertness, initiative, intentness, industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation and enthusiasm.
The black listened with apparent intentness to the end of the instructions, then opened his slobbery mouth and downed all the tablets in one gulp.
After the slight rustling had subsided, we were struck by the quiet intentness with which the children fastened their eyes upon their teacher.
She studies the photo with the same intentness with which she listens to his lectures.
The fools were rushing round and round in circles and did not know it; with the great speed they were going and the terrible intentness that was on them they were under the impression they were getting somewhere.
The show ran for about thirty minutes, and my recol lection is that, other than a few comments from the children to Jones, everyone watched with great intentness. In conversation with me afterwards, Jones commented that the show seems to work well with a variety of audiences, both in and outside St.
Nothing could exceed the intentness with which this scientific gardener examined every shrub which grew in his path: it seemed as if he was looking into their inmost nature, making observations in regard to their creative essence, and discovering why one leaf grew in this shape and another in that, and wherefore such and such flowers differed among themselves in hue and perfume.
Greenleaf's servant-leader manifests several notable characteristics: (a) sustained intentness of listening; (b) facilitator of language and imagination; (c) the ability to withdraw and reorient oneself; (d) empathy; (e) foresight; and (f) persuasion.
the performance of the offices of worship and intentness on works of supererogation and seeking to practice dhikr (remembrance of God; or the practice so designated) continuously and assiduity and diligence in the quest for salvation until he traversed those steep paths and undertook those hardships--but he did not attain the goal of his questing.
[W]e envy children their love of new experiences, their intentness in extracting the last drop of significance from each situation, their vital seriousness in things that to us are outworn." (31) And as a utopian the intimation never escaped him "that there are in the unformed activities of childhood and youth the possibilities of a better life for the community....