For any person to be convicted of a crime, there must be two very essential elements:
- The intention to commit the unlawful act (the mental element)
- The unlawful act committed (the physical element).
Mens rea is a Latin phrase for “guilty mind” basically, the state of mind. In a case, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the mental element or “guilty mind” while committing a crime to secure a conviction. This is according to the Black’s Law Dictionary. Let’s take an example of theft, the mens rea for this crime is the intention to deprive the rightful
owner of the property. If someone was involved in an act but without the intention to commit a crime, they may not be convicted for the said crime.
Actus reus is a Latin phrase for “guilty act”. Actus reus is the wrongful deed that comprises the physical components of a crime that must be coupled with mens rea for one to be held criminally liable. The “guilty act” in theft is the actual taking of or unlawful control over property without the owner’s consent.« Back to Glossary Index