Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Kristi M. McKinnon
Mens rea is a Latin term meaning “guilty mind,” criminal intent, or the mental state of an individual committing an act. Criminal law generally requires that corpus delicti , a Latin-based phrase meaning “the body of the crime,” be proven before an individual can be found guilty of any unlawful activity. Corpus delicti is comprised of three basic elements of the crime: (1) actus reus , or the guilty act; (2) mens rea , or the guilty intent; and (3) concurrence, or the amalgamation of the guilty act and the guilty intent. Mens rea is an integral facet of the criminal justice legal process. A belief that an individual must have a “guilty mind” in order for his or her action to count as a crime has existed for hundreds of years, dating as far back as the Roman Empire. The term mens rea was not utilized in English mens ...