mens rea

[menz ree-uh]
noun Law.
a criminal intent.

Origin:
1860–65; < Neo-Latin mēns rea

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World English Dictionary
mens rea (ˈmɛnz ˈreɪə)
 
n
law Compare actus reus a criminal intention or knowledge that an act is wrong. It is assumed to be an ingredient of all criminal offences although some minor statutory offences are punishable irrespective of it
 
[Latin, literally: guilty mind]

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Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  mens rea
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  the intention to commit a wrongful act, the element that establishes criminal responsibility; a criminal mind
Etymology:  Latin 'guilty mind'
Usage:  law
Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

mens rea
Latin phrase meaning "guilty mind."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

mens rea

in Anglo-American law, criminal intent or evil mind. In general, the definition of a criminal offense involves not only an act or omission and its consequences but also the accompanying mental state of the actor. All criminal systems require an element of criminal intent for most crimes. Only Anglo-American systems, however, employ the term mens rea. Countries such as France and Japan simply specify that there must be a criminal intent unless a specific statute directs otherwise.

Learn more about mens rea with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
One commenter already mentioned mens rea, but the authors of the article did not, in the portion of the article on the website.
Everything about his demeanor projected no mens rea-no sense that he had done anything wrong.
However, where the required mens rea may not be determined from the statute, moral turpitude does not inhere.
He appeals only the attempted battery conviction, contending that the trial court wrongly instructed the jury on mens rea.
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