A fundamental aspect of criminal law is actus reus and mens rea.
Actus reus (guilty act) and mens rea (guilty mind) are both required to lay a criminal charge.
If an individual does not have “the guilty mind” the individual cannot be charged with committing a crime as they cannot form the intent to commit the crime. In cases without mens rea, it is believed the person did not have the capacity to form intent; such is the case for matters of battered women syndrome, schizophrenia or duress.
In duress cases, the individual commits a crime they would not usually commit due to external pressures such as being threated that their family will be killed if they do not follow through with a crime. The individual is coerced into this action and lacks free will. For instance, a bank robber gets into your car and tells you to drive while holding a gun to head and tells you they will shoot you if you don’t help them escape.
Actus reus is simply the guilty act itself. For example, if you go into a store and steal a chocolate bar you are guilty of the theft. Conversely, if an individual is sitting with a friend and venting about an examination and says “I could kill someone” and never follows through, that person isn’t guilty of anything. Both components are essential to establishing a criminal charge. Did you learn something new?
Please like, share and leave comments 🙂 I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!