Encyclopedia of Crime & Justice, pp. 995-1006, 2002
12 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2005
Mens Rea, or "guilty mind," marks a central distinguishing feature of criminal law. An injury caused without mens rea might be grounds for civil liability but typically not for criminal. Criminal liability requires not only causing a prohibited harm or evil - the "actus reus" of an offense - but also a particular state of mind with regard to causing that harm or evil. For a phrase so central to criminal law, "mens rea" suffers from a surprising degree of confusion in its meaning.
Keywords: mens rea, guilty mind, criminal
JEL Classification: K14
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