Many alleged criminal acts are identifiable by the actions that the alleged perpetrators undertake. For example, if a New Jersey resident is alleged to have committed battery then their case may move forward on evidence that they hit their alleged victim. However, action is not the only element that prosecutors must prove to convict individuals of criminal charges. There is a mental component to many criminal charges that must also be proven at trial.
That mental component is often referred to as mens rea, or the guilty mind. Individuals often will not be found criminally liable for their actions if they did not intend to commit crimes. For example, a person who absentmindedly carries an item out of the store, realizes their mistake and goes back to remedy their actions may not be charged with theft because they did not intend to deprive the store of the item without first paying for it.
Criminal defense strategies can help individuals overcome their charges by offering evidence that defendants did not have the requisite guilty mindset to commit the crimes they were charged with committing. Allegedly criminal acts that occurred due to negligence or accident rather than intentional conduct may be dismissed by the courts if the defendants did not want to break the law when they inadvertently engaged in allegedly prohibited conduct.
Criminal charges are very serious and can change the course of individuals’ lives. Understanding the various elements of criminal charges can help individuals overcome their legal hurdles and return to their normal lives. This post should not be used as legal advice by its readers and specific support with criminal defense matters should be sought from local attorneys.