Paul H. Robinson
University of Pennsylvania Law School
Encyclopedia of Crime & Justice, pp. 995-1006, 2002
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Keywords: mens rea, guilty mind, criminal
JEL Classification: K14
Date posted: February 4, 2005