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Corporate Criminal Intent

26 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2009 Last revised: 10 Nov 2009

William A. Simpson

Metropolitan State College of Denver

Date Written: August 5, 2009


This paper is about the corporation as criminal defendant. In common-law legal systems a fully constituted criminal offence normally requires proof of both the proscribed action (actus reus) and criminal intent (mens rea). However, it appears highly artificial to describe corporate mens rea with ordinary language terms such as “knowledge,” “belief,” “desire,” or “intention.” After a review of common-law and philosophical approaches to imputing criminal intent to the corporate defendant, this paper proposes a behavioral approach to attributing mens rea to corporations and concludes with a review of the (UK) Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 which, it is submitted, adopts just such an approach.

Keywords: corporation, mens rea, intent, corporate personhood

JEL Classification: G30

Suggested Citation

Simpson, William A., Corporate Criminal Intent (August 5, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

William A Simpson (Contact Author)

Metropolitan State College of Denver ( email )

Denver, CO 80217
United States

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