Subjective Responsibility

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  • The principle that an individual can only be found guilty of wrongfulness if he or she possessed the relevant mens rea (or criminal intent). The necessity of a “guilty mind,” or the notion that an individual should only be punished for what he or she is responsible, undoubtedly embodies a cornerstone of contemporary American criminal justice. Although a number of crimes only require actus rea (or the guilty act), the vast majority of offenses demand some element of subjective responsibility. Determining mens rea gene rally requires three specific components: (1) culpability, (2) blameworthiness, and (3) evidence of fault. The parameters for determining subjective responsibility can be somewhat difficult to determine; this may be espe cially problematic in cases of insanity or justification. While the ...

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