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Elements of a crime

The parts of a crime that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, such as actus reus, mens rea, concurrence, causation, and bad result.

Actus Reus

The criminal act or the physical element in criminal liability.

Mens Rea

The "state of mind" the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt; criminal intent from an evil mind; the mental element in crime, including purpose, knowledge, recklessness, and negligence.

Attendant Circumstances

A "circumstance" connected to an act, an intent, and/or a result required to make an act criminal.


The requirement that actus reus must join with mens rea to produce criminal conduct or that conduct must cause a harmful result.

Conduct Crimes

Crimes requiring a criminal act triggered by criminal intent.

Bad Result Crimes

Serious crimes that include causing criminal harm in addition to the conduct itself.

Manifest Criminality

The requirement in law that intentions have to turn into criminal deeds to be punishable.


Who we are as opposed to what we do; a condition that's not an action can't substitute for action as an element in crime.

Criminal Omissions

Two forms: (1) mere failure to act or (2) failure to intervene in order to prevent serious harm.

Failure to Report

One type of omission actus reus.

Failure to Intervene

One type of omission actus reus.

Legal Duty

Liability only for duties imposed by contract, statue, or "special relationships."

"Good Samaritan" doctrine

Doctrine that imposes a legal duty to summon aid for imperiled strangers.

American bystander rule

There's no legal duty to rescue or call for help to aid someone who's in danger even if helping poses no risk whatsoever to the potential rescuer.

Legal Fiction

Treating as a fact something that's not a fact if there's a good reason for doing so.

Actual Possession

Physical possessions; on the possessor's person.

Constructive Possession

Legal possessions or custody of an item or substance.

Knowing Possession

Awareness of physical possession.

Mere Possession

Physical possession.

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