Elements of a crime Mens

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Elements of a crime Mens

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Elements of a crime


Mens Rea


Rea- the crimes mental elements of the defendants intent (Mental Fault)

The criminal act must be voluntary or purposeful

(Mental Fault)/the defendants state of mind at the time of the offense.

Comes from the ancient saying of “ the act is not guilty unless the mind is guilty


Mens Rea cont.


Rea varies depending on offense

For murder, the mental element requires the defendant acted with “malice aforethought” (premeditation)


Actus Reus


Reus- a criminal act or an unlawful omission of an act must have occurred

Though you cannot be punished for thinking criminal thoughts, can you be punished for acting on those thoughts.

Words can be considered acts in criminal law

Examples of this are: Threats, perjury, conspiracy, and solicitation





Rea and


Reus must occur at the same time

Criminal intent must precede or coexist with the criminal act/ activate the act.


Rea may not be present until the crime is committed.

There must be voluntary action or a failure to act when physical able



Causation- an element that actual harm must occur

Example- Homicide requires the act of killing, aggravated battery requires serious bodily injury.

Causation is very complex to prove



Principal- Any actor who is primarily responsible for a criminal offense


Accomplice/ Accessory

Accomplice- a person who actively participates in the commission of a crime, even if they take no part in the actual criminal offence

Examples- lookout/getaway driver

Accessory- a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crimes.

Accessory after

the fact-


who provide criminals with certain aid in order to hinder a criminal's apprehension or prosecution


Legal Ramifications for accomplices and accessories

(a) Whoever aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures the commission of an offense, is punishable as a principal.

(b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense, is punishable as a principal.


Accessories after the fact

Federal law

treats accessories after the fact differently from principals



after the fact face a maximum of only half the fine and half the prison time that principals face.


If the principal faces the death penalty or life imprisonment, accessories after the fact face up to 15 years' imprisonment.)


Accessories before the fact

Accessory before the fact-A

person who aids, abets, or encourages another to commit a crime but who is not present at the scene.

Many jurisdictions refer to an accessory before the fact as an accomplice


Proving guilt

You need the following:

Proof beyond reasonable doubt

Credible evidence to support defenses

Defendants affirmative defenses; prove by preponderance of evidence


Intent- Purpose or intention

Concurrence- the apparent need to prove the simultaneous occurrence of both



("guilty action") and


rea ("guilty mind"), to constitute a


Causation-The act of causing or producing


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