Elements of Crime

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Elements of a crime The basic components of a criminal offense are listed below;[2] generally, each element of an offense falls into one or another of these categories. At common law, conduct could not be considered criminal unless a defendant possessed some level of intention — either purpose, knowledge, or recklessness — with regard to both the nature of his alleged conduct and the existence of the factual circumstances under which the law considered that conduct criminal. However, for some legislatively enacted crimes, the most notable example being statutory rape, a defendant need not have had any degree of belief or willful disregard as to the existence of certain factual circumstances (such as the age of the accuser) that rendered…show more content…
Others may require proof the act was committed with such mental elements such as "knowingly" or "willfulness" or "recklessness". Arson requires an intent to commit a forbidden act, while others such as murder require an intent to produce a forbidden result. Motive, the reason the act was committed, is not the same as mens rea and the law is not concerned with motive. Although most legal systems recognize the importance of the guilty mind, or mens rea, exactly what is meant by this concept varies Conduct (Actus reus) All crimes require actus reus. That is, a criminal act or an unlawful omission of an act, must have occurred. A person cannot be punished for thinking criminal thoughts. This element is based on the problem of standards of proof. How can another person's thoughts be determined and how can criminal thoughts be differentiated from idle thoughts? Further, the law's purview is not to punish criminal ideas but to punish those who act upon those ideas voluntarily. Unlike thoughts, words can be considered acts in criminal law. For example, threats, perjury, conspiracy, and solicitation are offenses in which words can constitute the element of actus reus. The omission of an act can also constitute the basis for criminal liability. Concurrence In general, mens rea and actus reus must occur at the same time—that is, the criminal intent had must precede or coexist with the

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