Mens Rea

Mens rea generally means a guilty mind but in modern criminal contexts refers to criminal intent. Modern mens rea stems from English common law, which at that time meant evil intent, and has been established as a necessary element of crime in the United States. Mens rea is one of five elements that establish a crime, each of which must be present for an action to be considered criminal. These elements are actus reus (i.e., guilty act that was committed consciously and voluntarily), mens rea (i.e., criminal intent), the concurrence of actus reus and mens rea, causation, and a resulting injury or crime. To better understand mens rea today, it is important to know when and why it was first established as an element of ...

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