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Tennessee General Law Blog

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What is Mens Rea and What are the Types?

A person cannot be found guilty of a crime if there is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the person had the intent to commit the crime. The concept is known as “mens rea,” which is a Latin term that means “guilty mind.” In other words, you cannot be convicted of a crime if you did not act knowingly or purposefully to commit the crime.

Generally, criminal courts recognize four types of mens rea, which are also referred to as four levels of culpability.

What is Mens Rea?

As mentioned earlier, mens rea is Latin for “guilty mind.” The term refers to the defendant’s intent to commit a crime. Most types of crimes are comprised of two components that must be proven by the prosecution to convict a defendant:

If any of the components is missing, the defendant cannot be found guilty of a crime. Criminal courts recognize the difference between someone who intentionally committed a crime and someone who did not mean to commit a crime. For this reason, courts evaluate the defendant’s mental state and criminal intent to determine the level of culpability.

Types of Mens Rea (Levels of Culpability)

When a defendant commits a crime, their criminal case will involve one of the following types of mens rea or levels of culpability:

Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney in Manchester, TN

If you are being accused of a crime, it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney who understands the concept of “mens rea” and can help you fight the charges against you. Intent and mental state play a major role in most criminal cases because prosecutors are required to prove that a defendant acted knowingly or purposefully to commit a criminal offense.

If you are facing criminal charges in Manchester or elsewhere in Tennessee, do not hesitate to discuss your defense strategy with our knowledgeable and results-driven criminal defense attorneys at Burch, Morrison, & Stewart. Schedule a free initial consultation with our lawyers to identify the defense strategy that fits your unique case. Call at (931) 954-1066.

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