Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Charles Patrick Ewing
In the Anglo American system of criminal justice, most crimes have at least two minimum elements: actus reus , the criminal act or omission, and mens rea , the required mental state (the so-called guilty mind). In the crime of murder, for example, taking the life of another human being is the criminal act ( actus reus ). But generally, actus reus alone is insufficient to constitute a crime. There must also be evidence of a culpable mental state ( mens rea ). That is, taking the life of another human being may or may not be murder, depending upon the killer's mental state. For instance, in most jurisdictions, murder is defined, at least in part, as the intentional taking of human life. The intent to kill is one example of mens rea . If a defendant is found to have acted with a different mental state, such as recklessness ...