Essay on Importance of Mens Rea in Current Criminal Law

1705 Words Nov 19th, 2007 7 Pages
MENS REA
Mens Rea is described as "A guilty mind; a guilty or wrongful purpose; a criminal intent; Guilty knowledge and willfulness". [2]
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 reus' (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 mind, whereas larceny required a felonious state
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The cases are judged through any of the three tests discussed below. [5]
Subjective Test: The court must be reasonably satisfied that the accused essentially had the requisite mental element present in his or her mind at the relevant time (Purposely and Recklessly).
Objective Test: The requisite Mens Rea element is charged to the accused on the basis that the reasonable person would have had the mental element in the same situation
(Negligence) .
Hybrid Test: This test is both subjective and objective.
In most situations it is difficult to base the judgment on the subjectivity of the case since the proof provided is not enough. Therefore decisions based on objectivity are also taken. The court has almost no obscurity in ascertaining Mens Rea if there is actual evidence, for example, the accused admitting the crime. The subjective test would be thus satisfied. However most of the accused make no such admissions. Therefore some degree of

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