Legality means that a law must be in place before an act can be considered a crime. Learn More
An act must be classified as a crime in order for it to be punishable by law. There are certain types of acts, such as murder or theft, that are universally recognized as crimes. Other acts, such as drug use or public drunkenness, may be considered crimes in some countries but not others.
Actus reus is the Latin term for “guilty act,” and it refers to the physical act of committing a crime. Learn More
This typically consists of three elements: the action, the result of the action, and the causation. The action must be voluntary. It cannot be something that the accused is forced to do. The result of the action must be harmful or unlawful. Simply put, it must be something that would not have happened but for the accused’s actions. And finally, there must be a causal link between the accused’s actions and the result. In other words, the accused’s actions must have been what caused the harm or unlawfulness.
Mens rea is the Latin term for “guilty mind,” and it refers to the mental state of intending to commit a crime. Learn More
An individual is only criminally responsible if they have the capacity to understand that their actions are wrong. The prosecution must prove not only that the defendant committed a criminal act, but also that they did so intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence. A person can only be punished for a crime if they have committed it voluntarily. This means that someone who commits a crime out of necessity or self-defense cannot be held liable for their actions. Similarly, someone who is coerced into committing a crime by threats or force cannot be held responsible.