In criminal law, criminal intent, also known as mens rea, is one of two elements that must be proven to obtain a conviction (the other is the actual act or actus reus). Some jurisdictions rank intent more in general and specific. It is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction between these intentions, but the Supreme Court has held that general intent is vaguely consistent with knowledge of a crime, while specific intent refers to the purpose behind the commission of the crime. The law technically distinguishes between motive and intent. “Intent” is synonymous with mens rea in criminal law, meaning that mental state shows a responsibility enshrined in law as a constitutive element.  Instead, the “motive” describes the reasons in the background and in the accused`s living position that allegedly caused the crime. Motives are often divided into three categories; Biologically, socially and personally.  A state law defines theft as “the permanent movement of property belonging to others.” This law describes a specific intentional crime. To be guilty of theft under the law, the defendant must do more than “take someone else`s property,” which is the indictable offence. The defendant must also intend to retain ownership permanently. In a legal context, motive is why a person might have committed a crime. On the contrary, as in Staat v. Willis, the motive is “the course in motion, the impulse, the desire that triggers the criminal action of the accused.” A motive, combined with other evidence, can be useful in proving that a person committed a crime, especially if the accused denies having committed the crime.
The motive can be proven by admitting evidence. For example, in the 1991 Missouri case, State v. Friend, Clarence Friend was convicted of first-degree assault after conducting a high-speed car chase with a police officer, shooting the officer with a handgun, and fleeing. A passenger in the defendant`s car claimed the driver`s name was “Donny,” but officers concluded it was fake and instead arrested and charged Friend. During the trial, Friend denied committing the crime and the passenger refused to testify, citing Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination. Among other evidence, prosecutors presented evidence that Friend escaped from a house halfway, was involved in a liquor store robbery and issued an arrest warrant for him. This was cited as evidence of Friend`s motive for fleeing the policeman and shooting him. Although the terms mens rea and scientific are sometimes used interchangeably, many jurisdictions define science as knowing that an act is illegal. The scientist may be the basis of a certain intention in some laws. For example, legislation that criminalizes “intentionally filing a false tax return” may require knowledge that the tax return contains false information and that it is illegal to file it (U.S.
v. Pompanio, 2010). If the prosecution does not prove beyond a doubt that the defendant knew his conduct was unlawful, this could nullify the perpetrator, and the prosecution cannot prove any specific intent. Whatever the motive, proof of intent is the driving force behind the presumption of guilt. Even if a crime has been committed, the accused may eventually be found not guilty for lack of intent. Intent can be described as a willingness to act and makes a difference in criminal proceedings. Intent can be divided into three levels of misconduct, depending on the increasing seriousness: At common law, each crime had only one criminal intent. In modern society, every crime has criminal intent, unless a law provides otherwise. The Model Penal Code provides: “If the law defining an offence prescribes the type of culpability sufficient for the commission of an offence without distinguishing between the essential elements, that provision applies to all essential elements of the offence, unless a contrary aim is obvious” (Model Penal Code, § 2.02 (4)). Essentially, the difference between motive and intent depends on the state of mind of the accused. A motivation to act is not a crime in itself.
The commission of an act with criminal intent is general. If Addie clenched her fist and punched Eddie in the jaw after Eddie called her a “stupid idiot,” Addie probably committed a battery in accordance with the law. A prosecutor could prove that Addie committed the harmful or offensive act of contact using Eddie`s testimony and a doctor`s report. The jury could then be tasked with “inferring intent from the evidence of the act.” If the jury accepts the finding and finds that Addie committed the indictable offence, the jury could find Addie guilty of intent to commit assault without further evidence. There are two objections to the motive when considering punishment. The first is the deliberate objection, which is the argument that the person cannot deal with his own motives and therefore cannot be punished for them. The second objection is the neutrality objection. This is based on the idea that our society has opposing political views and that, therefore, the preference of a government should be limited.
 On occasion, the criminal intent of the accused is not directed against the victim. Depending on the jurisdiction, this may result in the transfer of intent from the defendant of the intended victim to the subsequent victim for reasons of fairness (N.Y. Penal Law, 2011). Although this is a legal fiction, it may be necessary to achieve a fair result. The transferred intent is only relevant for crimes that require a bad result or sacrifice. In a case where intent is transferred, the defendant may receive more than one criminal complaint, for example: a charge of “attempt” to commit a crime against the intended victim. The trial and transfer of intent are discussed in detail in Chapter 8, Immature Crimes. Generally, a person`s motive can be determined by taking into account various factors that lead to the commission of the crime. For example, if Bill hit Barry, an investigation into the facts could reveal that Barry stole Bill`s watch, giving Bill a reason to beat him. While investigators may be able to determine a person`s motive, this does not link them to the crime; The prosecutor does not have to prove that the accused had a reason for criminal conduct.
However, a judge or jury may consider the reason when hearing the case. A state law defines chaos as “physical contact with another person inflicted with intent to mutilate, disfigure or heal.” This law describes a specific intentional crime. To be guilty of chaos under the law, the accused must have physical contact with the intent to cause the wrong outcome of mutilation, disfigurement or scarring. If the prosecution cannot prove this high-level intent, the accused may be acquitted (or charged and convicted of a lower-level intentional crime such as assault). “Accidents happen. Sometimes they happen to people who commit crimes with loaded weapons. Read Dean v. U.S., 129 p. Ct.
1849 (2009)), which is available at the following link: scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=10945987555184039397&q= Dean+v.+U.S.&hl=en&as_sdt=2.5. Specific intent is defined as a person`s intention to perform the illegal act and cause the specific result. According to the second subsection of the Assault Act, if Barry knew he was going to hurt Bill for hitting him, that would show specific intent. Billy and his brother Ronnie argue in a crowded bar. Billy clenched his fist and swayed to aim at Ronnie`s face. Ronnie dodges and Billy punches Amanda in the face instead. Billy had no intention of beating Amanda. However, it is unfair to allow Ronnie`s protective act to excuse Billy`s behavior. Billy`s intention to beat Ronnie trickles down to Amanda in some jurisdictions.
Billy can also be charged with attempted assault by Ronnie, resulting in two crimes rather than one under the doctrine of transferred intent. While there are exceptions that will be discussed shortly, criminal intent or mens rea is an essential part of most crimes. At common law, all crimes consist of an act committed with a guilty mind. In modern society, criminal intent can be the basis of guilt, and intentional punishment is a fundamental premise of criminal justice.