Main aspects of the Criminal intent

Common law bases its understanding on the essence of the elements of crime on the single Latin phrase, actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, meaning that “the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty”. Therefore to the Common law definition of the crime it is an inherent prerequisite that there must be an actus reus, or “guilty act”, accompanied by some level of mens rea to constitute the crime with which the defendant is charged. The law does not attach criminal liability to a person who merely acted with the absence of mental fault. The exception to this rule applies to strict liability crimes. Under the traditional common law, the guilt or innocence of a person relied upon whether he had committed the crime and whether he intended to commit the crime. With the passing of time and the evolution of Criminal law, many modern penal codes have created levels of mens rea called modes of culpability, which depend on the surrounding elements of the crime.
Criminal intent is the first of all other types of mens rea (the term of art common law usually uses to describe the mental fault of the defendant), it is the most serious one and the one that is punished most severely by the law. A person intends a consequence they foresee that it will happen if the given series of acts or omissions continue, and desires it to happen. The most serious level of culpability, justifying the most serious levels of punishment, is achieved when both these components are actually present in the accused’s mind.
One popular definition of the concept of Criminal intent states that it is “the decision to bring about a prohibited consequence.” Criminal intent refers to the state of mind accompanying a forbidden by the law act. It is one of three general classes of mens rea necessary to constitute a conventional as opposed to strict liability crime. It is the outline of the mental pattern which is necessary to do the crime. Sometimes, not very correctly, the term criminal intent is used in the sense of mens rea – the mental element requisite for guilt of the offense charged.
There are different types of criminal intent and the distinction between them is important not only theoretically, but for practical reasons as well. For example there often exists a distinction between “basic intent” and “specific intent.”
“Specific intent” is a less frequently invoked term of art and often applies to cases in which the accused intends to commit a crime but has not yet done so. It may be used to justify preventive detentions made by legal enforcement agencies and officers to people committing acts associated with terrorism, treason or sabotage.
Criminal intent may be further categorized as either “direct” or “oblique.” Defined as a desire to commit a specific act in the expectation that it will result in a specific outcome or result. This is the way the prosecution may use to prove premeditation.
By contrast, “oblique” intent may be used to establish guilt in cases that involve unintended consequences. An individual who undertakes a specific action with the knowledge that it may cause certain consequences may be estimated to have oblique intent.
There exists a third division between the types of intent, namely unconditional and conditional intent. Unconditional intent is observed when a person expects the results and the consequences of their actions. On the other hand conditional intent exists when a person expects the result but only because the conditions diverted the person from his or her unconditional intent.


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