Criminal Law2- Mens Rea
Why is it important?
• The moral component, if you are punishing someone you must deserve it
• For most crimes you need both theAR and MR, sometimes spelled out in the statutes,
sometimes they only describe the actives reas, in those causes the courts “read in” the
• Highest form of mens rea is intention
1. Intention (+ wilful blindness)
3. Criminal Negligence
• Highest form of mens rea
• You intended to do something
• Sometimes referred to as “knowledge”
• Subjective- the intention is something that is actually in the accused’s mind, what matters
is what the accused thought, whether the accused actually had it in his mind
• Does NOT include
o Remoteness: how likely or unlikely something is to happen to does not affect
o Knowledge of Illegality: whether you knew it was illegal or not does not affect
o Enthusiasm: how keen you are on doing something does not affect your intention
(ex. Being in class, you may not be happy, but you intentionally came to class)
o Motive: ex. Take a pen because someone said they would shoot you if you didn’t.
Your motive was not to die, but still you intended to take the pen. Doesn’t matter
why you did it, you did it nonetheless, so you committed the offence. Motive is
useful in helping with problems of proof, having a motive can help in building the
case of the prosecutor.
• How does the Crown prove intention? Through inference from the conduct/behaviour.
Also if the crown can show motive, it can contribute to proving the intention. But still it
does not have to be shown ot prove intention.
• Willfull blindness: ignoring something, you deliberately turn a blind eye so that you
wouldn’t know, did not let yourself have the knowledge meaning you made yourself
willfully blind. o ex. The case of the man who cashed the cheque for a stranger, and it was forged.
He said that he did not know that it was forged, and even though a reasonable
person would have been suspicious of someone giving them a cheque, they could
not prove mens rea because he was unaware that to was forged.
o References to a reasonable person’s standpoint- used as a frame of defences, but
in the end, it ultimately matters what the accused had in his mind
• Subjective/objective- two step process:
1. Subjective foresight of risk- accused has to be aware something might happen
(ex. Going 120km/h on Richmond street because you are late for class, you run
the risk of hurting others yet you still take the risk)
2. Objective unreasonable running of risk- measured by society. Reasonable
people would find it unreasonable to run that risk
• Usually not sufficient by its