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The Basics of Criminal Law

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Criminal law is a complicated field. Criminal defense lawyers need to have knowledge of criminal law inside and out. They must also be able to apply various concepts to individual cases to clear their clients’ names. This video explains a few of the most basic concepts that criminal law addresses.

“Mens rea” is a latin phrase that means “guilty mind”. Under the law, an individual needs to be actively engaged with a guilty mind while they are performing the crime. For example, if you rob a bank while you are sleepwalking, you cannot be found guilty because you had no agency over your mind at the time.

In a more realistic scenario, if someone plans on murdering someone with a knife, and they accidentally hit them with their car on their way to perform the crime, they are not guilty of murder, necessarily. They did not have a guilty mind in their head at the time so they are excluded from mens rea.

You can be found guilty of attempting a crime even if it does not succeed. You need to have a guilty mind and act in a way that shows you clearly had a guilty mind. For more information, check out the video above.

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