According to common law, in order for something to be classified as a "crime," a certain number of elements must be met. At a bare minimum, a crime usually requires (i) proof of some type of physical act (called the actus reus) and proof of a (ii) certain mental state (called the mens rea) by the person while committing the act. In other words, the State (i.e. government) must prove that a person actually committed the act accused of and acted with a certain mental state. The State must also generally prove that the act and the mental state occurred at the same time (i.e. they occurred concurrently). The State may also have to prove causation and a harmful result.
In this article, we’re going to focus on element (ii) – the mental state, also referred to as the mens rea. Further, with respect to the mens rea, or the mental state, crimes can be classified into four main categories, including: (i) specific intent crimes, (ii) general intent crimes, (iii) crimes committed with malice, and (iv) strict liability crimes. We’re going to focus on specific intent crimes in this article.
In this article, we’ll be focusing on 10 specific intent crimes. Next, we’ll take a look at the meaning of specific intent.