Concept Of Mens Rea - The Criminal State Of Mind
Every crime must include mens rea, or criminal intent. For an act to be
considered criminal, there must be mental culpability. The distinction between
civil and criminal culpability is made by the presence of both an act and
malicious intent. In general, there is nothing wrong with a mere act, by which I
mean a deliberate bodily activity.
For instance, the actions that make up a shooting act are not inherently wrong.
Shooting a rabbit or a bird is wrong. However, you are guilty of murder if you
intentionally shoot someone with the intent to kill them when there is no legal
reason for doing so.
There is no bad intent and no crime if you shoot a man because you thought he
was a log of wood, in self-defense, or if you amputate his leg to save his life.
When a strong man pulls a weaker man from behind and tosses him on you, you
dislike the stronger man but not the weaker man because the latter in this
situation is merely a tool in the hands of the stronger man.
The theory actus me invite factus non est mens actus, which states that "an act
done by me against my will is not my act," expresses this natural emotion. From
this vantage point, the notion of mens rea, which is sometimes said to proceed
under the presumption of a voluntary conduct, does not affect the
irresponsibility in such a circumstance.
Division Of Mens Rea Into Three Categories:
- General Intent
- Specific Intent
- Recklesness/Criminal Negligence
Crimes requiring general intent must show that the accused intended to do
something wrong. To be found guilty, just one must have had the intention to do
the offence in question. When an offender's voluntary action might be expected
to result in an illegal act even without the offender having a specific
intention, general intent is present.
In order to establish general intent, the prosecution must demonstrate that the
defendant acted purposefully in the sense that he was conscious of what he was
doing. The conduct itself proves the criminal intent necessary to secure a
conviction in cases of crimes with universal purpose.
The phrase "specific intent" refers to a defendant's objective desire for a
particular outcome to occur as a result of his or her action. Both the intent to
perform the unlawful acts and the defendant's motivation to pursue a certain
objective must be established by the prosecution. It is not possible to infer
specific intent from the act itself, hence concrete evidence is needed to show
that this requirement has been met. A crime where the mens rea must be explicit
purpose is conspiracy.
Other crimes don't require either particular or general intent. By proving that
the defendant acted carelessly or negligently, the prosecution can get a
conviction. When the defendant acted carelessly without considering the
unjustified risk that the circumstances exist or the outcome will occur, both
criminal negligence and recklessness may be present. Criminal negligence is a
lesser degree of guilt than recklessness. Standards for carelessness and the
potential criminal penalties for criminal negligence differ from state to state.
Where the law is codified and offences are properly defined so that the mens rea
is included in the definition itself, like in India, the general notion of mens
rea is not of very great consequence. Perhaps all instances where a mens rea
cannot be assigned are covered by the definitions in the Indian penal code and
the chapter on general exceptions. The general concept would, I assume, not be
of much use in cases where neither the definition nor the chapter of general
exceptions exclude a case of this kind�I doubt such a scenario occurs.
I only refer to crimes that are legitimately classified as crimes when I discuss
mens rea as the necessary component of a crime. Offenses against municipal or
fiscal laws, which are occasionally penalized without regard to intent or
knowledge, are not included in the phrase.
Words Used In The Code To Denote Mens Rea
Voluntarily: A voluntary act is typically the opposite of a compulsory act and refers to
a choice made voluntarily, independent of influence or coercion. In some
cases, the word "voluntarily" has been used to describe the results of
actions for which the word "intentionally" could have been more appropriate.
However, the definition of "voluntarily" in section 39 of the law is more
expansive than that of "intentionally." When a person employs a method to
bring about an effect that he meant to bring about or that he knew or had
reason to think was likely to bring about the effect at the time the method
was used, the method is said to have been used voluntarily.
Fraudulently-Dishonestly: The code includes a very precise definition of dishonesty. Anyone who acts
in a dishonest manner is said to have done so with the aim to defraud or
harm another person is acting dishonestly.
- If someone performs anything with the intent to defraud but not
otherwise, it is said that they have engaged in fraud. Fraud is the act of
deceiving. Dishonesty does not require deception; fraud does.
Rashly-Negligently: The codes don't provide any definitions for the words "rashly" and
"negligently." They are used to describe the lack of care with which
reasonable individuals are expected to act, which is regarded guilty, rather
than to indicate a positive intention of evil.
Knowledge As Mens Rea
Knowing something means being aware of something, which shows that someone has a
mind. When there is a direct appeal to the senses, a person can be assumed to be
aware of it. Understanding the effects of one's actions is known as knowledge.
It is the attitude that a person holds toward actual facts that he or she has
personally observed or that have been confirmed to him by sources whose
truthfulness he or she has no cause to question. In essence, knowledge is
subjective. However, intention and knowledge frequently overlap and essentially
imply the same thing, making it possible to infer intention from knowledge.
Negliegence As Mens Rea
Mens rea is not a monolithic idea. Mens rea may be the presence or existence of
intention in certain circumstances, the requirement of knowledge in others, or
negligence in still others, depending on the nature of the crime. As a result,
the law has established many categories of mens rea, or intent, including
carelessness, recklessness, knowledge, and purpose.
The quantity or level of criminal intent necessary to convict a person of an
offence must be determined by the courts based on the nature of the offence, the
requirements of specific statutory provisions, and the purpose of the specific
Intention And Knowledge As [Alternative] Mens Rea
Alternative bases of intention are subject to responsibility under the IPC. The
responsibility for unlawful homicide is a prime illustration. Both the words
"intention" and "knowing" are used in sections 299 and 300 of the IPC, which
deal with culpable homicide and murder, respectively, and have different legal
repercussions. Although they imply different things, intention and knowledge are
utilised as alternative mens rea for the offences. The desire to accomplish a
particular goal is known as intention.
There are three types or degrees of mens rea or intention that must be present
in order to commit the crime of culpable homicide: 1. An intention to cause
death 2. Knowing that causing harm with the aim to kill someone, and 3. Knowing
that death is likely to occur.
Public Welfare Offences And Mens Rea
Despite being a universally recognized principle, mens rea as a fundamental
component or ingredient of crime has limitations. A wide variety of social or
public welfare laws have recently been drafted with the intention of making even
the simple act of omission or commission illegal. In other words, criminal
liability can be imposed without the need for mens rea or legal blame.
Mens rea is a Latin phrase that translates to "guilty mind." Mens rea, the
essential element that sets an offence apart, highlights the importance of the
accused's state of mind at the moment the deed was committed.
It's crucial to remember that no activity is unlawful without a mens rea. The
common law maxim "actus non facit reum nisi mens sat rea," which literally
translates as "the act is not criminal unless the mind is guilty," serves as the
finest definition of mens rea. The accused cannot be held accountable under
criminal law unless it can be established that they knowingly committed the
offence. It is the plaintiff's burden to prove the existence of mens rea since a
person cannot be judged guilty unless the charge against him or her is proven
true beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense seeks to plant a reasonable doubt in
the judge or jury's mind.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Kaushiki Sinha
Authentication No: SP42368548600-29-0922