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Archive for the ‘criminal intent’ tag

A Brief Overview of Criminal Intent

January 29th, 2018 at 7:53 pm

criminal intent, malice aforethought, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, Illinois criminal law, Illinois criminal casesCriminal intent (or mens rea) is an important legal concept to understand if you are going to stand trial for committing a criminal offense as the prosecution is required to establish mens rea (i.e. that the defendant had a guilty mind) in order for the defendant to be found guilty in many criminal cases. Depending on the severity of crime that was allegedly committed, the prosecution will need to prove that the defendant acted intentionally and possessed one of the following types of criminal intent when the illegal act was committed: malice aforethought, specific intent, or general intent.  

Malice Aforethought

Malice aforethought is the state of mind that is necessary in order to prove the most serious types of homicide. An individual possessed malice aforethought if he or she intended to kill or to cause great bodily harm. Malice aforethought is critical in homicide cases as this distinction in criminal intent is the key difference between murder and malice as murder is an unlawful killing that is committed with malice aforethought while manslaughter is an unlawful killing that does not involve malice aforethought.    

Specific Intent

In order to obtain a conviction for the most serious criminal offenses, apart from murder, the prosecution is required to show that the defendant specifically intended to cause a certain bad result, to do something more than commit the criminal act for which he or she is on trial, or acted with the knowledge that his or her conduct is against the law. Therefore, an individual is typically said to have acted with specific intent if he or she intentionally committed an unlawful act with the desire to cause a particular outcome.   

General Intent

General intent is similar to specific intent as they both require the defendant to have acted intentionally; however, if the defendant did not do something more than the criminal act itself nor did he or she act with the additional desire to cause a certain result, then he or she likely acted with general intent. In other words, an individual acts with general intent if he or she meant to do an act that is prohibited by law.

Specific Intent vs. General Intent: Which One?

It should be noted that criminal law statutes do not always specifically state whether an individual is required to have possessed specific or general intent in order to be convicted of committing the crime at hand. If the statute does not spell out the requisite level of criminal intent, then the court will determine whether the crime requires general or specific intent by looking at the language used in the statute. For example, if the statute uses terms like “voluntarily” and “knowingly” then the crime will often be considered a general intent crime.   

Contact a Local Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal law is complex and as such anyone who has been charged with a crime and is looking to retain legal counsel should take care to hire a local criminal defense lawyer who has extensive experience handling criminal cases. Talented Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher Cosley is just such a lawyer. If you have been charged with a crime in Illinois and live in the greater Chicago area, feel free to contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at your earliest convenience to schedule an initial consultation with Mr. Cosley to discuss your legal options.

Source:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/mens_rea

Specific Intent Crimes

July 19th, 2016 at 11:46 am

Specific Intent CrimesSome crimes in Illinois are referred to as “specific intent” crimes. These crimes require that the criminal defendant have the specific intent, or a particular state of mind, to do something in order to make a conviction of a criminal defendant for the crime. To think of this another way, the criminal defendant must have had a specific state of mind, or purpose, that was the reason behind committing the crime. The specific requisite intent is often defined in the criminal statute that governs over any particular specific intent crime that a defendant is charged with.

The good thing about specific intent crimes is that the prosecution has the burden of showing that the criminal defendant had the requisite state of mind that is needed to commit the alleged crime. Proving the necessary specific intent for a crime is often the prosecution’s weakest link in their case against the criminal defendant, as it is difficult to prove a person’s state of mind. Sometimes the prosecution’s whole case will turn on proving the requisite intent element of a crime, and the prosecution may only have circumstantial evidence to support its position. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can fight the prosecutors by attacking the weakest aspects of their case.

What Are Some of the Specific Intent Crimes in Illinois?

There are several specific intent crimes under Illinois law. Indeed, these types of crimes include:

  • Theft: In order to obtain a theft conviction, the criminal defendant must have the specific intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property of possession or use of the item that is stolen.
  • Theft by deception: The criminal defendant must have the intent to defraud or steal from the victim through an act of deception.
  • Burglary: For a burglary conviction, the criminal defendant must have the intent to carry out a felony or theft upon knowingly entering or remaining in a dwelling or building without authorization to be there.
  • Residential burglary: Again, the criminal defendant must have the intent to carry out a felony or a theft inside a dwelling where he or she is not authorized to be.
  • Battery and aggravated battery: The criminal defendant has to have the intent to cause serious bodily harm to the victim of the battery.
  • Attempt of committing a crime: Attempt charges require that the criminal defendant had the intention of committing a crime, but either failed or was unable to successfully commit the crime.

When the prosecution is unable to demonstrate that the criminal defendant had the requisite specific intent that is necessary to be convicted of the crime, the charges will be dismissed. It is important to work with an experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer who knows how to attack the specific intent aspect of criminal charges in your defense.

When You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Anyone who is facing criminal charges in Illinois, for theft, burglary, battery, or any other crime should get in touch with a seasoned and experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. Our attorneys are eager to assist you with your case today.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=1876&ChapterID=53&SeqStart=36500000&SeqEnd=39200000

Criminal Intent: All about a State of Mind

April 14th, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Illinois defense attorney, mens rea, Illinois criminal lawyer, Many crimes are made up of two parts: an action and a mental state. One example is where one person kills another. Depending on the person’s mental state when he or she kills the other person, he or she could be guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, or maybe no crime at all. When it comes to certain crimes, much of what a criminal defense attorney winds up doing at trial is showing a judge or jury that the defendant did not have the required mental state to commit the crime. Each of these mental states has a specific legal definition set out by state statute.

Acting Intentionally

One mental state is “intent” or “acting intentionally.” For a person to be found guilty of a crime that requires that he or she have intent or act intentionally, he or she must have the conscious objective or purpose of accomplishing the result of that crime or engaging in the conduct of that crime.

Acting Knowingly

Acting knowingly or knowing something is a slightly less overt mental state than acting intentionally. A person acts knowingly if one of two possible scenarios apply to him or her. These scenarios are:

  • A person acts knowingly or with knowledge of the nature or attendant circumstances of his or her conduct when he or she is consciously aware that his or her conduct of that nature or that those circumstances exist.
  • A person acts knowingly or with knowledge of the result of his or her conduct if he or she is consciously aware that the result is practically certain to be caused by his or her conduct.

It is important to note that if a statute requires a “knowing” state of mind but the evidence establishes the defendant acted “intentionally,” then that is good enough. If someone has acted intentionally they have also acted knowingly under the law.

Recklessness

Legally speaking, a person is reckless if he or she consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances will exist or a result will follow and that disregard is a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in that situation. In other words, a person is reckless if he or she consciously ignores a major obvious risk and in doing so does not exercise the same level of care that a normal person could be expected to under the circumstances.

Negligence

If a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or a result will follow and that failure constitutes a substantial deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise, then that person has acted negligently.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you or someone you love is being investigated for or has been charged with a crime, you need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200. Christopher Cosley has spent his career fighting for people like you.

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