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What Is 'Mens Rea?'

Criminal law is complicated, so it's no wonder you feel overwhelmed after being arrested. You aren't sure where to start. You're not sure how to protect yourself, and the people around you aren't being much help.

The first thing you should do is to contact an attorney. Your criminal defense attorney will help protect you against unfair treatment by the authorities and guide you through the judicial process.

One of the terms that may come up during defense stategizing sessions is "mens rea." Mens rea is a term that means "guilty mind" in Latin. This simple term helps differentiate people who intended to commit a crime from those who did not intend to. Most crimes require mens rea, meaning that there had to be intention. You may lack mens rea if you accidentally hit a pedestrian, for example. Someone who intentionally drives up onto a sidewalk and strikes a person has mens rea.

Why this concept is so important

Your state of mind shows your intention to take part in a crime. Did you intend to hit and harm someone or did you just become distracted and accidentally go off the road? Did you intend to shoot someone or was it a tragic accident? The differences in these situations show how important it is to be free of a guilty mind. If you didn't intend to break the law, the chances are that the penalties you will face will be much less serious.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine the best course of action depending upon the specific circumstances of your case.


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