Prior to beginning work on this discussion, read A Statutory Approach to Criminal Law (Links to an external site.) and Chapter 4: The Elements of a Crime (Links to an external site.). Additionally, watch Components of a Statute (Links to an external site.).
Understanding the elements of a crime, particularly the distinctions between guilty mind and guilty act, are essential components for all criminal justice professionals to comprehend. Take the time this week to understand these concepts fully, and be prepared to use the information gained to analyze all criminal law questions throughout this course and in your professional career. It is natural to assume that either a mental state or criminal act can be easily proven; however, the old expression that “the devil is in the details” truly applies to these foundational, legal concepts. Always remember that the state must prove all elements of a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt, and that burden of proof rests solely on the state. Your initial post must be at least 300 words in length. Support your responses with credible sourcing, either from the required readings this week, or from independent research that you conduct in the Ashford University Library or online, and properly cite any references.
Please answer the following questions below:
- Distinguish between the terms actus reus and mens rea. How are they significant in criminal law?
- To what standard of law must the defendant’s mens rea be proven in order to gain a criminal conviction? Must the state prove “what the defendant was thinking at the time of the crime” in order to prove mens rea? Why or why not?
- To what standard of law must each element of the actus reus be proven, and why?
- Which of the two legal requirements listed above (i.e., actus reus and mens rea) is more difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in a trial, and why?