mens rea

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

Mens Rea

As an element of criminal responsibility, a guilty mind; a guilty or wrongful purpose; a criminal intent. Guilty knowledge and wilfulness.

A fundamental principle of Criminal Law is that a crime consists of both a mental and a physical element. Mens rea, a person's awareness of the fact that his or her conduct is criminal, is the mental element, and actus reus, the act itself, is the physical element.

The concept of mens rea developed in England during the latter part of the common-law era (about the year 1600) when judges began to hold that an act alone could not create criminal liability unless it was accompanied by a guilty state of mind. The degree of mens rea required for a particular common-law crime varied. Murder, for example, required a malicious state of mind, whereas Larceny required a felonious state of mind.

Today most crimes, including common-law crimes, are defined by statutes that usually contain a word or phrase indicating the mens rea requirement. A typical statute, for example, may require that a person act knowingly, purposely, or recklessly.

Sometimes a statute creates criminal liability for the commission or omission of a particular act without designating a mens rea. These are called Strict Liability statutes. If such a statute is construed to purposely omit criminal intent, a person who commits the crime may be guilty even though he or she had no knowledge that his or her act was criminal and had no thought of committing a crime. All that is required under such statutes is that the act itself is voluntary, since involuntary acts are not criminal.

Occasionally mens rea is used synonymously with the words general intent, although general intent is more commonly used to describe criminal liability when a defendant does not intend to bring about a particular result. Specific Intent, another term related to mens rea, describes a particular state of mind above and beyond what is generally required.

mens rea

(menz ray-ah) n. Latin for a guilty mind, or criminal intent in committing the act. (See: intent, crime)

mens rea

noun criminal design, criminal guilt, crimiial intent, criminal purpose, criminality, culpability, vice, wrong, wrongdoing

mens rea

‘guilty mind’, the term used to describe the mental element required to constitute a crime. Generally it requires that the accused meant or intended to do wrong or at least knew he was doing wrong. However, the precise mental element varies from crime to crime.
References in periodicals archive ?
35) Disagreement persists about how to define the actus reus and mens rea of rape.
In other words, the Court could have carried out a more detailed analysis of the evidence before it and should have explained the reasons why it concluded that 'Arkan's Tigers' had not acted with the required mens rea.
In addressing the confluence of technology and intent, it is helpful to provide context by considering the historical view of mens rea in criminal law, how that view has evolved, and the current landscape with respect to mens rea and the First Amendment in light of the June 2015 Elonis ruling.
The conservative solution to the over-criminalization problem is to pass legislation that would insert a new definition of "knowledge" into any provision of law that happens to omit an explicit standard for the mens rea part of the prosecutor's burden of proof.
traditional mens rea approach in the criminal law governing the trusts.
I am of the view that the mens rea requirement of 'knowingly and wilfully' does apply to those various types of conduct listed under Rule 77 and forms part of the specific intent.
Traditionally, under federal law, mens rea is imputed to organizations via agency principles, such as respondeat superior.
interpreting this mens rea requirement in the context of [section] 793
Given the likely advancement of technology, "it would probably be wise for legislators to ensure that laws are written in a way that makes clear that questions of mens rea and responsibility generally regardless of what instrumentalities are used, and also to reflect on scenarios such as the London art project to determine whether they call for any fundamental reworking of longstanding legal concepts," Franks said.
Hallevy describes in great detail how strong AI can incur criminal liability by meeting both the physical and mental requirements of subjective mens rea offenses, negligence based offenses, and strict liability offenses.
Here, unlike JCE I or JCE II, attribution of criminal liability for the murders is cut loose from the mens rea requirements of intent to produce, or even knowledge of, the result.