Understand Criminal Law in 18 Minutes (Part I)


even though criminal law interests
everyone and it’s something everybody will deal with at least once a lot of
people don’t know very much about it here are a few basic concepts that might
help but beware though this isn’t legal advice just a general explanation let’s start with the two most basic
elements of a crime: 1st “mens rea” now mens rea is not, as it sounds, some sort of mainly death ray “mens rea” is Latin for “guilty mind.” to
commit a crime you have to have a particular state of mind when you act. obvious right? let’s use an example if you commit a criminal act like bank robbery but you’re sleepwalking then you didn’t act with a guilty mind and so you didn’t
commit a crime you have to act with a guilty mind at the exact time of the
criminal act so if you decided to murder someone but on your way there you’re not
paying attention and you hit them with your car that’s not murder because even though
you had a bad act and a guilty mind you didn’t have the guilty mind when you did
the bad act you were thinking about something else “actus reus” is just a fancy word for a
“criminal act.” you can’t commit a crime without action but even if you want to
commit a crime you may not actually be successful this is called an attempt. an attempt
is a special crime that requires two things be present 1st the guilty mind or the intent to
commit a crime, 2nd an act something significant enough that the attempter is showing they really want to commit the crime but is not actually committing the entire crime the world is full of criminals who
didn’t quite pull it off for all kinds of reasons the difference in the
criminal act is the important part if you committed the whole act it wouldn’t
be attempted robbery it would just be robbery for example grabbing a purse but
not actually taking it would be a big enough act to be an attempt but touching
a purse in passing while you think about possibly grabbing it would not be enough even though you were thinking about it so it’s important not to jump the gun on stopping an attempt
having the intent is still important you can’t commit an attempt because you’re
being reckless or not paying attention even if you could commit the underlying
crime that way so while you can recklessly commit
manslaughter you can’t recklessly attempt manslaughter you can’t recklessly attempt to commit
any crime for that matter it might be another crime but not
attempt because you have to intend to commit a crime for an attempt to take
place and there you have it

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