CJA 343 Criminal Defense - Criminal Responsibility and...

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Criminal Responsibility and Defenses Explain the nature of and types of defenses to criminal liability. There are three basic elements in the commission of a crime. All are related to the concept on mens rea , which is Latin for guilty mind. It could be thought of as the state of mind of the suspect when the crime was committed. The elements are: “a mental state, prohibited action and lack of legal justification. Each of these elements must be proven by the government beyond a reasonable doubt. If any element is not proven, the person charged must be found not guilty.” (Shestokas) The status of the suspect’s mind can be in one of four states: He can purposely cause the crime to be committed, or act purposely; He can act knowingly, with the understanding that his actions will result in a crime being committed; He can act recklessly and disregard any effects his actions may have; and finally he could act negligently, purposely deviating from the care a normal person would show in a situation. (Shestokas) The mental attitude, the mens rea , must also be accompanied by the actus reus , or bad act, the actual act that is criminal. Using an example of a shopper for an example: You
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