In the criminal law, a “crime” is consists of “elements”. There are two main kinds of elements in every criminal offence: actus reus (external) elements, which describe the actions and external circumstances of the crime; and mens rea (fault) elements, which cover the state of mind that accompanies the actus reus. Take the example of murder. Typically, this is thought to consist of two actus reus elements and one mens rea element. On the actus reus side we have: (a) the death of one person (b) caused by the actions of the defendant. And on the mens rea side we have: (c) the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm. These three elements constitute what we shall call the completed crime of murder. If a defendant happens to satisfy all three elements, and has no viable defence, then they will be liable for the completed crime.
For instance, suppose someone buys a gun and shoots it at another person, intending to kill them, but misses. Are they not liable for something? Yes; certainly: they are liable for attempted murder. Every legal system of which I am aware includes liability for attempted crimes of this sort. So, even if the elements of the offence are not satisfied, one can be held liable for attempting to satisfy those elements.
Jan 12th, 2015
Studypool's Notebank makes it easy to buy and sell old notes, study guides, reviews, etc.