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Pat Bakhoum Austin Zimmer CJA/224 10/31/2011 University of Phoenix

THE ELEMENTS OF A CRIME Designated as a crime, an act necessitates three significant elements: actus reus, mens rea, and concordance amongst the two (Grant & Meyer, 2003). Once there are several elements to a crime, the courts duty is to safeguard that each element is supported(Grant & Meyer, 2003). Uncertainty of one or more elements cannot be presented to be accurate in a specific occasion; the defendant is not guilty of a charge(Grant & Meyer, 2003). These three sometimes four elements are mentioned to mutually as the corpus delicti (Latin for body of a crime) (Grant & Meyer, 2003). Actus Reus
First, the act must be a guilty act or omission. This is called the actus reus of a criminal offense. In order to qualify as a guilty act, the action must be voluntary in addition to breaking an existing criminal statute. But, do not let this paragraph delude you into thinking that actus reus is an overly easy concept. Sometimes, it is difficult to differentiate between a guilty act and a noncriminal one. In the end, it is important to know which acts have been criminalized and the circumstances under which they are criminalized so that you can know an actus reus when you see it. Guilty acts are those that have been forbidden by law (Grant & Meyer, 2003). .

Mens Rea
Second, all crimes need a guilty state of mind, or a mens rea. Our laws are based on the idea that blameless people should not be punished for their actions. Some statutes declare that certain crimes must be knowingly committed, that is that perpetrators have knowledge of what they are doing Not to get into specifics, but there are special forms of the mens rea rule: foreseeability, negligence, and felony murder rule(Grant & Meyer, 2003).

Concordance betweenActus Reus and Mens Rea and Other Issues

Finally, before an act can be defined as a crime, a concordance between the actus reus and the mens rea must exist. Some offenses require that attendant circumstances be fulfilled. Attendant circumstances are conditions that must be present (or absent) in order for a crime to take place. Most states have cutoff

3 dollar values for theft; larceny of less than a certain amount is a misdemeanor while stealing more than that amount is a felony. There can be no crime unless a guilty act follows a guilty intent, and the two combine to produce criminal harm. At this point, it is important to mention two other special categories of offenses: those that involve strict or vicarious liability. Strict liability offenses are those for which one can incur liability without mens rea. Vicarious liability cases, one is held responsible for the conduct of another person if a particular type of legal relationship exists between the two (Grant & Meyer, 2003).

Definition of a crime
The definition of crime is, it is an act of commission or omission that is legally forbidden (Grant & Meyer, 2003). Necessitates existence of both actus reus and mens rea (Grant & Meyer, 2003). The first thing you will notice about this definition is that crimes subject the wrongdoer to legal punishment (Grant & Meyer, 2003). This means that the acts have already been categorized as criminal, and conceivably punishments for such acts have already been laid out in certified documents, usually state or federal penal codes or local ordinance (Grant & Meyer, 2003). If an act is not legislatively prohibited, then it is not a crime, no matter how abhorrent the act (Grant & Meyer, 2003). .


The Courts in Our Criminal Justice System, by Jona F. Meyer and Diana R. Grant. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright 2003 by Pearson Education, Inc.