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What is criminal intent?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

When it comes to a felony, there are very few crimes that could be considered accident. Most felonies require some sort of criminal intent. This is often an issue when a case goes in front of a Georgia jury.

Intent is about what the defendant thought

Intent refers to someone’s state of mind at the time that they allegedly committed the crime. There are some crimes that require the defendant to have intentionally tried to commit them. However, other criminal charges only require the unlawful act without any intent to actually commit the crime.

Specific intent requires even more proof

The prosecutor must prove every single element of the crime as part of the criminal law process. Not only must they bring evidence of what happened, but they must also show that the defendant intended to commit the crime. In criminal justice parlance, this is known as “mens rea.” This is often the most difficult part of the case for law enforcement to prove. They need witness testimony and other proof showing that the defendant wanted to commit the crime. Usually, this means that they need to convince someone else to testify. When prosecutors can show specific intent to commit the crime, it often leads to the higher penalties associated with a felony.

Not all crimes require specific intent. For example, some crimes just require a general intent. These crimes could result from negligence or recklessness. An example of this is a motor vehicle crime such as speeding; the defendant sets themselves up for guilt at the time they commit the act.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you may want an attorney to help with your case. The criminal justice system can be difficult to navigate alone, so defendants need a guide to the criminal process as they review their legal options.