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The Three Fundamental Aspects of Crime, Essay Example

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Essay

Discuss the three (3) fundamental aspects of crime and how each central to the concept of crime

The three fundamental aspects of crime are, firstly, the criminal act (actus reus), secondly, a mental state which can be determined to be guilty of the criminal act (mens rea), and, thirdly, a connection between the two. In essence, a crime can only be identified as a crime if all three of these elements are present. Without the criminal act itself, there is clearly nothing to be evaluated from the perspective of the law. Namely, the criminal act occurs when there is some type of discerned violation of the law. However, a violation of the law may not be sufficient so as to convict the individual for a criminal action. The second element therefore delineates the extent to which the intent of the accused coincides with the criminal act itself. For example, a common defense of the accused is to cite examples of mental instability. In these cases, the argument is that the accused was not aware that he or she had committed a criminal act for reasons such as psychological illness. Essentially, this relates to the third foundational element of crime, whereby a connection between the first two aspects must be established for the act to be truly deemed criminal. From this perspective, a fourth element could be added to the model: the law itself which defines which acts are criminal and which are not.

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