Importance Of Intent In Criminal Law

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Intent is a mental attitude with which an individual acts, and therefore it cannot ordinarily be directly proved but must be inferred from surrounding facts and circumstances. Intent refers only to the state of mind with which the act is done or omitted. It differs from motive, which is what prompts a person to act or to fail to act. For example, suppose Billy calls Amy names and Amy throws a snowball at him. Amy 's intent is to hit Billy with a snowball. Her motive may be to stop Billy 's taunts. The legal importance of what an individual intended depends on the particular area of law. In contract law, for example, the intention of the parties to a written contract is fixed by the language of the contract document. In Tort Law, intent plays a key role in determining the civil liability of persons who commit harm. An intentional tort is any deliberate invasion of, or interference with, the property, property rights, personal rights, or personal liberties of another that causes injuries without Just Cause or excuse. In tort an individual is considered to intend the consequences of an act—whether or not she or he actually intends those consequences—if the individual is substantially certain that those consequences will result.…show more content…
If a person innocently causes harm, then she or he lacks mens rea and, under this concept, should not be criminally prosecuted. Although the concept of “mens rea” is generally accepted, problems arise in applying it to particular cases. Some crimes require a very high degree of intent, whereas others require substantially

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