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Mens Rea

Encyclopedia of Crime & Justice, pp. 995-1006, 2002

12 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2005  

Paul H. Robinson

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Paul H., Mens Rea. Encyclopedia of Crime & Justice, pp. 995-1006, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=661161

Paul H. Robinson (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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