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Actus reus and mens rea are the two components of a crime. Actus reus refers to the physical component of a crime, the very act of committing the crime. Mens rea, in contrast, is the mental component of crime, the existence of a criminal intent. Mens rea requires the offender to have intended to carry out the physical act. Actus reus and Mens rea both are required for conviction under criminal law, although for some other laws, called laws of absolute liability, only the mens rea component is required. Many criminal lawyers, judges, and professors see the distinction between actus reus and mens rea as basics of criminal law.
The actus reus differs with each crime according to the nature of the definition of the offense. Along with the offense-defense distinction, it helps us organize the way we conceptualize and analyze liability. The mens rea concerns the wrongful attitude of the accused that accompanies the actus reus of the offense. Constructive manslaughter occurs when the accused has the actus reus of murder and causes the death of the victim while perpetrating another crime.
Should the Criminal Law Abandon the Actus Reus-Mens Rea Distinction? - PAUL H. ROBINSON, University of Pennsylvania Law School. It is said to be the corner-stone of discussion on the nature of criminal liability. The concepts of actus reus and mens rea have justified themselves by their usefulness. This most basic organizing distinction is not coherent. I suggest that we abandon the distinction in favor of other conceptualizations.
Philosophical Analysis and the Criminal Law - L.A. ZAIBERT, University of Wisconsin - Parkside - Department of Philosophy. In order to make a sensible distinction between acts and thoughts, it is necessary to abandon theories that define acts in terms of thoughts. Identifying the set of necessary condition and sufficient condition for an event to be a crime sheds considerable light on the nature of this concept as well as on the purposes of criminal legislation. It reveals inadequacies with well-known distinctions in Anglo-American law, such as the actus reus and mens rea distinction, the objective and subjective distinction, the act requirement and actus reus requirement distinction, the justification and excuse distinction and others. This distinction does not gain in intelligibility by appealing to the actus reus and mens rea distinction, or to the act requirement and mens rea distinction, or to the action and culpability distinction of continental criminal law.
Recent Developments in the English Law of Involuntary Manslaughter - C Elliott - Journal: European Journal of Crime. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when the defendant has the actus reus of murder but lacks the mens rea of murder. Before the summer of 1993 there were two forms of involuntary manslaughter: constructive manslaughter and Caldwell reckless manslaughter. Caldwell reckless manslaughter occurs when the accused has the actus reus of murder and has the mens rea to either see the risk to the victim or where the risk is obvious but the accused gives no thought to it. In order for liability for gross negligence to occur, there must be the actus reus of murder, a risk of death, a duty of care, and a grossly negligent breach of that duty.
Assault, Rape, Bigamy,
and Related Offenses; Mens Rea and Actus Reus
(From Criminal Law and Approaches to the Study of Law: Cases and Materials,
Second Edition, P 107-228, 1991, John M Brumbaugh - J M Brumbaugh.
Discusses the theoretical anatomy of a criminal offense, the elements of mens rea and actus reus, and uses such crimes as assault and rape to illustrate both the particular crimes and the theoretical models. A detailed analysis of mens rea (guilty mind) and actus reus (guilty act). The discussion of actus reus encompasses omissions and voluntary conduct. A discussion of the concurrence of actus reus and mens rea is followed by consideration of absolute liability offenses. Concludes with an examination of the relationship between mens rea and the accused's ignorance of or mistaken belief about the facts or the law, using the law of rape, bigamy, and related offenses to illustrate this concept.