General Intent Crimes and Specific Intent Crimes: What You Need to Know

Facing the criminal justice system is always intimidating. However, not all crimes are looked at in the same way, and the nature of the crime greatly impacts your experience with the law. If you have been arrested for a crime, it is important to start your defense by understanding the specific nature of your charges. This starts by securing your release with a bail bond. You can get a bail bond from a bail bond agent, who will provide the money needed to pay for your bail. After securing your bail bond and getting released, you can begin your research into the charges. One of the first distinctions to keep in mind is whether the charge is for specific or general intent.

The Distinction Between Specific and General Intent Crimes

When trying to understand the distinction between specific and general intent crimes, it is important to look at intent. Under common law, all crimes have two key components. The first is the “actus reus.” This is about the requisite act of the crime. “Mens rea,” by contrast, is about the requisite intent. In other words, crimes are classified by the action itself and the intent behind it.

By this understanding, the criminal intent definition is vastly important to your case. For crimes to have a specific intent definition, the perpetrator must have a desire to commit the specific crime in question in order to achieve a specific result. When looking at the general intent definition, there is no need to prove requisite intent. Instead, the only evidence needed to move forward is that the crime did indeed occur. By the general intent definition, no motivation has to be linked back to you in order to secure a conviction.

Specific Intent Crimes

Understanding the broad specific intent definition is important, but there are further distinctions of note. You will be able to tell if you are charged with specific intent based on the wording used in the charge. Specific intent crimes are described legally as intentional, purposeful or willful. It is not enough for you to intentionally commit the crime. You must also be shown to have malicious intent.

For example, if you steal something as part of a prank, you cannot be charged with specific intent because you did not intend to permanently deprive the other person of his or her property. This distinguishes pranks from more serious charges of theft. Specific examples of crimes that usually warrant specific intent charges include burglary, child molestation, forgery, solicitation, larceny, embezzlement, conspiracy, murder and more.

General Intent Crimes

When looking at the criminal intent definition, general intent crimes do not require any proof of your motivations. Instead, general intent charges are based only on the act itself. Because of this, general intent is much easier to prove in court, making it more likely for the prosecution to secure a conviction. In fact, you may not even know the act was illegal for a general intent charge to stick. The prosecution must only prove that you were willing to commit the act with no indication of why.

A good example of a crime that usually warrants a general intent charge is battery. Battery refers to causing harm or damage to another person. This can be intentional in some cases, but battery charges can also stem from reckless actions, thereby classifying the charge under general intent. Other examples of general intent crimes can include assault, rape, manslaughter, arson and driving under the influence.

When to Get Legal Help

There is an obvious distinction between specific and general intent crimes in terms of the severity of the charge. With specific intent, the prosecution has more to prove. However, the consequences are also generally more severe. If the prosecution can prove you acted with specific intent, you are more likely to face stiffer penalties.

Even though specific intent crimes are generally more serious, general intent is easier to prove. This is why it is advisable to get legal support no matter what type of charges you are facing right now. An experienced lawyer can help you make sense of your charges and build up your defence. This is the best way to protect yourself moving forward.

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