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blameworthiness based on mens rea; deserving of punishment because of individual responsibility for actions


the idea that we can only punish people that we can blame, and we can only blame people that are responsible for what they do.

principle of mens rea

(see mens rea)


the reason why a defendant commits a crime.

subjective fault

fault that requires a "bad mind" in the actor

objective fault

requires no purposeful or conscious bad mind in the actor; it sets a standard of what the "average person should have known"

general intent

intent to commit the actus reus- the act required in the definition of the crime.

specific intent

the attitude represented by subjective fault, where there's a "bad" mind or will that triggers the act; the intent to do something beyond the actus reus

general intent "plus"

"general intent" refers to the intent to commit the actus reus of the crime and "plus" refers to some "special mental element" in addition to the intent to commit the criminal act


the specific intent to act and/or cause in criminal harm


consciously acting or causing a result


the conscious creation of substantial and unjustifiable risk


the unconscious creation of substantial and unjustifiable risks


the Latin name for "awareness"

strict liability

liability without fault, or in the absence of mens rea; it's based on voluntary action alone.

principle of concurrence

some mental fault has to trigger the actus reus in criminal conduct crimes and the cause in bad-result crimes

principle of causation

requirement that criminal conduct cause a harm defined in the criminal code

factual cause

conduct that, in fact, leads to a harmful result

"but for" cause

cause in fact; the actor's conduct sets in motion a chain of events that, sooner or later, leads to a result

proximate cause

the main cause of the result of criminal conduct; legal cause

intervening cause

the cause that either interrupts a chain of events or substantially contributes to a result

ignorance of the law

a defense that the defendant didn't know the rules, so he couldn't know he was breaking the law.

mistake of facts

to be mistaken about the law or fact; to believe the facts are one thing when they're really another; a defense whenever the mistake prevents the formation of any fault-based mental attitude.

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