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Chapter 1 – 1.09 Types of Intent


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1.09 Types of Intent


                Mens Rea--Mens rea is general criminal intent and is all that is required in most criminal offenses. All that has to be proven is that the defendant acted with a bad purpose and that he knew that what he was doing was wrong.

                Specific Intent‑‑Some crimes require proof of specific intent. In these cases, it must be shown that the defendant desired the exact prohibited act. Specific intent usually cannot be presumed but must be proven by the prosecution like other elements of the crime. How­ever, as previously noted, jurisdictions many times have statutory presumptions built into certain laws to aid the prosecutor in the proof of specific intent.

                Recklessness‑‑ Recklessness is a wrongful state of mind some­what less severe than criminal intent. One has a reckless state of mind when he acts, not intending harm, but with complete disregard for the rights and safety of others, and harm results to others as a result of this behavior.

                An example of recklessness as a state of mind in Florida may be seen in the Second Degree Murder Statute, which requires an act imminently dangerous to human life and evincing a depraved mind.

                Negligence-- Under the law, there is both civil negligence and criminal or culpable negligence. Civil and criminal negligence each have the same four legal elements which are outlined below. The difference lies in the degree of breach. Criminal or culpable negligence requires a gross breach of conduct. The elements of negligence are:


                a. A standard of care (duty imposed by law);

                b. A breach of that standard;

                c. Proximate cause; and

                d. Harm or injury to an individual.


                Simple negligence will never support a charge for a crime which requires specific intent. In cases involving culpable or criminal negligence, the jury applies what is known as the reasonable person doctrine. This re­quires that the jury take the factual situation into consideration and take the skills, education and background of the defendant to deter­mine whether or not he acted as a reasonable man under the circum­stances. The most common crime related to criminal negligence is manslaughter with an automobile as the instrumentality.

Knowledge is the element of intent required in possession of contraband cases. The state must establish that the defendant knew or should have known that the substance he possessed was illegal.


                Transferred Intent‑‑Criminal intent will transfer from one situation to another.  If you intend to kill A, but instead kill B when A moves quickly out of the way, the intent to kill transfers to B.