Legal Elements of a Crime

Legal Elements of a Crime - failure to act, however, can be...

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Legal Elements of a Crime All crimes feature certain elements. Unless the government is able to prove the existence of these  elements, it can't obtain a conviction in a court of law. No crime without law There can be no crime without law. If an act is to be prohibited, a legally authoritative body (such as  Congress or a state legislature) must spell out in advance what behavior is banned. The U.S.  Constitution forbids  ex post facto laws , which declare certain acts to be illegal  after  the behavior  occurs. The Constitution also requires that criminal laws be written in precise terms so that a citizen  can determine what conduct is illegal.  No crime without a criminal act In American criminal justice, the government punishes people for what they do rather than for what  they think or say. The First Amendment protects an individual's freedom of thought and speech. The 
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Unformatted text preview: failure to act, however, can be a crime in situations in which an individual has a legal responsibility to do something. Tax laws and child-neglect laws are two examples. Threatening to act and attempting a criminal act can both be criminal offenses. Similarly, conspiring to commit a crime is illegal. Conspiracy statutes criminalize taking steps to carry out a plan to commit a crime. No crime without intent Intent pertains to the state of mind or mental attitude with which a person does an act. A synonym for intent, mens rea , literally means “guilty mind”. The mental design or purpose to commit a crime is the essence of intent. No crime without concurrence For an act to be a crime, both the act and the intent must occur at the same time....
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course CJ 101 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '09 term at Texas State.

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