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150 words agree or disagree to each questions


For many people their first experience with a court hearing is from watching a fictional crime television show or movie. Often in the movies we will hear many Latin terms such as modes operandi, quid pro quo, mens rea, and actus rea. These terms have become synonymous with the legal and crime dramas shown on television, but they actually have real meanings in court proceedings. A crime is broken into three elements or parts, the three are the criminal act, the criminal intent, and the concurrence of the two. Mens rea is the term used for the criminal intent of a crime and Actus rea is the term used for the criminal act of a crime. In criminal proceedings the prosecutor must prove mens rea to be successful. The criminal act or actus rea is the “unlawful bodily movement” which is performed voluntarily (Storm, 2012). Mens rea is the criminal intent of a crime and is the basis for punishment when prosecuting crimes, as the worse crime will have the most servere punishments associates with them. Mens rea is ranked in three categories the first being malice aforethought or the intent to kill, the second being specific intent which is the cause a specific action, and lastly general intent which is the intent to commit a crime. Though mens rea and actus rea are both tied directly to a crime they do have specific differences. If we look a situation of one student stealing another students jacket from their locker in school the criminal act, actus rea, is the taking of someone else’s property while the criminal intent, mens rea, would be with the intent to permanently deprive the other student of their property. Motive is not an element of a criminal case,e however it does play a ole in criminal cases. Motive is commonly referred to as the reason person committed an act. Motive is the reason a person committed the criminal act and can be used to determine sentencing for example if a John is at a local bar and punches another man for dancing with his girlfriend, John’s motive was anger or jealously, while his intent was to cause bodily harm resulting in the criminal act of battery. As a result of this example John may be subject to a harsher punishment then if in the same scenario the John missed his punch and the other man struck John in self defense. Proving mens rea vice motive is beneficial to the criminal justice system because in order to prove motive you must be able to successful explain what a person is feeling and thinking at the time of a crime and that would prove extremely difficult where proving mens rea can easily by explained by showing a person committed criminal intent by either acting recklessly or by engaging in an action that they knowingly or can be knowingly assumed by a reasonable person to cause harm.


For a defendant to be convicted of a particular crime, there are things that are needed, and one of them is a specific state of mind. This state of mind required for a defendant to be found guilty of a crime is what is referred to as Mens rea (Mens rea, n.d.) or the guilty mind. Actus reus is another commonly used term in the criminal justice system, and it stands for the action an individual takes to perform an unlawful act (Actus reus, n.d.). The main difference between these two terms is that Mens rea refers to a defendants state of mind during a crime, while Actus reus refers to the physical action that is usually behind a crime.

It is the work of the prosecution to prove that a defendant has indeed committed a crime, failure to which the defendant is acquitted. The prosecutor must, therefore, prove every single element of the crime beyond reasonable doubt (Storm, 2012). One way a prosecutor can achieve this essential goal is by establishing a solid Mens rea and Actus reus of an offender. During a criminal trial, the prosecution has to verify that the defendant acted intentionally and voluntarily for the Actus reus requirement to be fulfilled. This means that if the court finds that the defendants actions were as a result of reflex, then the Actus reus requirement needed to convict the defendant would have failed.

Motive refers to the impulses, feelings, or even inner drive, that makes an individual act in a precise manner or do things in a particular way (Motive law and legal definition, n.d.). I believe motive plays an essential role in criminal justice. This is because the motive is a primary part of the defense, and it also continues to be one of the significant considerations made during sentencing. Motive reinforces the harmony of shared moral judgments, and this is one of the reasons why it plays an essential role in the punishment approach. The only way we can understand the crime committed by a defendant is by first understanding the motive.

A crime such as a homicide, for example, is motivated by things such as provocation, lust, greed, and self-defense, among others. Knowing the motive behind a crime such as a homicide helps to separate it from murder, which involves the voluntary or deliberate killing of a victim (Motive law and legal definition, n.d.). In my own opinion, I believe that having to prove Mens rea instead of motive in a criminal case has positively affected the criminal justice system. This is because it helps the prosecution to understand both the intention and the motive behind a crime. Mens rea looks at the thought or the purpose a defendant had before acting and also the reasons behind the defendants intention. This means that the criminal justice system is more effective when focusing on Mens rea instead of motive alone.


Actus reus. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Mens rea. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Motive law and legal definition. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Strom, M. L. (2012). Criminal defenses. Retrieved from


I absolutely loved learning about mens rea and actus reus in my investigator course. Mens rea and actus reus are both elements of a crime. The difference is pretty simple, mens rea is the intent behind the crime while actus reus is the action the behind the crime. For example, if someone purposely assaulted someone, it was their intent to hit them, the individual actually hitting them is the action (Strom, 2012). Motive and mens rea are really similar. Motive is the reason for doing something. Motive is not proof of a crime, and is not always needed in a criminal prosecution (Cornell Law School, n.d.). Although motive and mens rea are similar, they are not exactly the same. Someone could show intent behind a crime, yet not have a reason for doing it. Motive is admissible and can strengthen a case, but like mentioned before, it is not evidence of a crime (Cornell Law School, n.d.).

When conducting a witness or victim interview I ask them what they think the suspects intent was and nine times out of time, they can always tell me what the suspects intent was. When I asked them, what the suspects reason behind commit the act, they cannot always answer that question. Even when you ask the suspect what their motive behind committing the act, they do not always have a reason. A defense lawyer may speak to the Jury claiming there was no motive for their client to have committed said crime, but there does not need to be motive for a crime to occur.


Cornell Law School. (n.d.). Motive. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/motive

Storm, L. (2012). Criminal Law. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.apus.edu: http://ezproxy.apus.edu/login?url=http://ebooks.apus.edu/LSTD302/Storm_Ch4.pdf

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