Actus Reus And Mens Rea – Research Paper Example

ACTUS REUS and MENS REA In order for a person to be convicted of a crime, the prosecution must prove two important elements: the actus reus and the mens rea. Without these two elements, a conviction will not be entered. The actus reus is the easiest to prove. It simply means the act. There must be an illegal act. For example, in a murder, the act might be shooting the gun and killing the victim. The prosecution will have to prove that element: that the accused is the one who did it. They might prove it through any number of types of evidence. This kind of evidence will be much easier to adduce than the evidence for the second element, the mens rea.
The most difficult thing to prove in a criminal context is the mens rea: the mental element. Did the accused subjectively intend to shoot the victim. Perhaps they were just doing target practice and the victim jumped in front of the gun. In that case, it will not be murder. It is hard to get inside of a persons head to know what they are thinking. Therefore, the mental element is hard to prove. This is probably a good thing, for the burden should be high to convict someone of such a serious crime. How can the mens rea be proven? One way is to look at what the accused said in the past, whether there was a motive, whether they were emotional at the time. These are things that the prosecution will try to prove to establish at trial.