Mens rea

The levels of mens rea and the distinction between them vary among jurisdictions. Although common law originated from England, the common law of each jurisdiction with regard to culpability varies as precedents and statutes vary.

England and Wales[edit]

  • Direct intention: the actor has a clear foresight of the consequences of his actions, and desires those consequences to occur. It’s his aim or purpose to achieve this consequence (death).
  • Oblique intention: the result is a virtually certain consequence or a ‘virtual certainty’ of the defendant’s actions, and that the defendant appreciates that such was the case.
  • Knowingly: the actor knows, or should know, that the results of his conduct are reasonably certain to occur.
  • Recklessness: the actor foresees that particular consequences may occur and proceeds with the given conduct, not caring whether those consequences actually occur or not.
  • Criminal negligence: the actor did not actually foresee that the particular consequences would flow from his actions, but a reasonable person, in the same circumstances, would have foreseen those consequences.

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