Criminal law, intention and defences

Criminal Law Intention

According to criminal law, intention must be proven in order to constitute a crime. In a great deal of cases which are dealt with by criminal law, intention on the part of the criminal can be determined based upon the nature or their crime or actions, as well as any evidence which relates to their crime. For example the intent to murder someone could easily be deduced by any evidence which suggests careful and meticulous planning leading up the event coupled with an obvious motive for committing the crime.

In English criminal law, intention can be distinguished from several other possible motivating factors which are taken into consideration by a court of law, such as recklessness, wherein other factors must be taken into consideration when judging a crime. In order to prosecute and convict the defendant according to criminal law sufficient proof of intention is usually required. If for example the case related to the death of a man, proof of intention on the part of the defendant would be required in order to fully convict them for murder, if this were not the case, depending on the circumstances it may then be regarded as manslaughter rather than a case of wilful murder.

Criminal law intention can also be judged based upon the nature of the incident in question, in the case of a murder the prosecution will consider exactly how the crime may have transpired in order to deduce the intentions of the defendant. In an incident relating to a murder charge, the defendant may have been acting in self defence or intending to hurt the victim rather than commit outright murder. Without sufficient evidence to support a wilful intent to commit murder, then the crime will be considered in a totally different light to a case of cold blooded murder.

In many instances of crimes which are deemed punishable under criminal law, intention is not always necessary judged on evidence for the planning of a crime. This is known as general criminal intent, and it applies to likely situations wherein the defendant is considered to have been aware of their criminal actions. This can apply to a variety of situations and means that the prosecution will not be required to produce substantial evidence of intention. If for example the defendant were on trial for trafficking illegal drugs, the prosecution would not be required to argue or prove that the defendant was aware of the exact amounts of the substance that they had in their possession.  Other examples of general criminal law intention are assault, kidnapping etc.

A number of revisions have been made regarding criminal law intention over the years. Most recently in 2006, it was ruled that an intentional crime will be regarded as a criminal act wherein the defendant will be certain of the consequences.

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