Criminal Law Mens Rea - Essay Example

Only on StudentShare

Extract of sample
Criminal Law Mens Rea

The topic statement is lifted from Glanville Williams Criminal Law: The General Part [2nd ed. 1961]. A perusal of the topic shows that it runs counter to another statement in the same text which shows the belief of the author that the concept of mens rea is an index of maturity of our legal system. The correlation to the various justifications of punishment or purposes of criminalization does not at all compute when considered from the various vantage points and time frames of the said justification theories. The mental element of crime may be significant for one purpose or the other but the same way that the various purposes do not conjoin with any one crime, the element of mens rea will not be relevant to all the justifications and purposes.
The cardinal principle of criminal law is that 'a wrongful act does not make a person guilty unless his mind is legally blameworthy.' There must not only be a wrongful act (actus reus), but with it must also concur intent (mens rea, Latin: the guilty mind; a guilty or wrongful purpose; a criminal intent1). Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea.2This is so because evil thoughts are condemnable and punishable only when they are sufficiently dangerous to society and only when translated into evil deeds. From a practical vantage point, there is really no way for any legal system to sanction evil thoughts. Blackstone confirmed this:
" ...
Download paper


'It may be said that any theory of criminal punishment leads to a requirement of some kind of mens rea. The deterrent theory is workable only if the culprit has knowledge of the legal sanction; and if a man does not foresee the consequence of his act he cannot appreciate that punishment lies in store for him if he does it…
Author : hoppechad

Related Essays

Law tells us what is right, while ethics is not so categorical and definite in its approach. The opinion was also supported by Maitland in connection to the British law(Pollock and Maitland, History of English law, vol.2). Miller defines crime " to be the commission or the omission of an act which the law forbids or commands under pain of a punishment to be imposed by the state by a proceeding in its own name"( Miller, Criminal Law, p.15 ). The basis of criminal law is that there are certain standards of behaviour of moral principles which society requires to be observed (Devlin P. 1965, The...
8 pages (2008 words) Essay
The Main Aspects of Criminal Law
Woollin). Subjective recklessness is found when the defendant is aware of the risk involved with his action, but still does the act. (R v. Cunningham1982 AC 566)(Smith & Hogan, 2006)
6 pages (1506 words) Case Study
Criminal Law: Penal Law
The police file a document, in most jurisdictions known as a complaint, with a court in the appropriate jurisdiction. The interests of the state are represented by a prosecuting attorney, while the interests of the defendant are represented by his or her attorney. While the specific process varies according to the local law, in virtually every jurisdiction the process culminates with a trial, followed by appeals to higher courts (Frey, H. & Wellman, 75).
8 pages (2008 words) Essay
Criminal Law: principles
The former is primarily concerned with the 'physical' aspect of criminal responsibility whereas the latter is concerned with the 'mental' aspect.
8 pages (2008 words) Essay
Criminal law- Actus Rea and Mens Rea
In criminal law it is the basic principle that a crime consists of a mental element and a physical element.A person's awareness of the fact that his or her conduct is criminal is the mental element, and 'Actus Reas' is the physical element and 'Actus Reas' (the act itself) is the physical element.The concept of Mens Rea started its development in the 1600s in England when judges started to say that an act alone could not create criminality unless it was adjunct with a guilty state of mind. The degree for a particular common law crime varied for Mens Rea. Murder required a malicious state of...
4 pages (1004 words) Essay
Mens Rea
He was perhaps in his early thirties medium height and bearded face. What stood out to me at the moment was that he wore well fitted tan suit. I presumed that he was a business man of some sort. Like most in this particular coffee shop, he sat on his chair busily minding his lap top and scribbling on his note pad. He next began talking to himself. I privately concluded that he was a journalist preparing for an interview. My notion was dashed when I noticed a bewildered expression cross his features. He glanced around, panic stricken with eyes darting about. It was almost as if he did not...
4 pages (1004 words) Personal Statement
Criminal Conduct and Criminal Law
The consideration of mens rea is important because it separates those crimes that were committed willfully, and those acts that were accidental. The willful element shows that the person desired the outcome and should be responsible, or the outcome so desired. The lack of the willful element may mean that the outcome was desired and was not even planned for. It is only fair not to punish someone for an act they did by mistake, and they did not even desire the outcome.
4 pages (1004 words) Essay
Got a tricky question? Receive an answer from students like you! Try us!