Knowledge, Recklessness and the Connection Requirement Between Actus Reus and Mens Rea
44 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2014 Last revised: 8 Feb 2015
Date Written: January 15, 2015
It is a foundational, but underappreciated principle of criminal liability that being guilty of a crime requires not only possessing the requisite mens rea and actus reus, but that this mens rea also be appropriately connected to the actus reus. That is, the former must concur with or "actuate" the latter. While there has been much discussion of the connection requirement as applied to the mens rea of intent, its meaning as applied to knowledge and recklessness has received far less attention. In this paper, I consider one of the few sophisticated attempts to spell out the requirement as applied to knowledge and recklessness — namely, the counterfactual approach offered by Ken Simons. However, I argue that this sort of approach faces problems. In its place, I defend a different kind of approach to the connection requirement — one that does not rely on counterfactual tests, but rather places normative questions front and center.
Keywords: mens rea, actus reus, concurrence, culpability, intention, knowledge, recklessness, latent belief
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