The seven elements of a crime, also known as the “criminal elements,” are the essential components that must be present for an act to be considered a crime. These elements vary slightly depending on the jurisdiction but generally include the following:
- Actus reus: This Latin term refers to the “guilty act” or the physical act of committing a crime. It can also refer to an omission or failure to act required by law.
- Mens rea: This Latin term refers to the “guilty mind” or the intent or knowledge of wrongdoing necessary to commit a crime. It can also refer to a reckless or negligent state of mind sufficient to establish criminal liability.
- Concurrence: This element requires that the actus reus and mens rea co-occur. In other words, the intent to commit the crime must be present when the act is committed.
- Causation: This element requires that the actus reus must have caused the harm or injury that is the basis of the crime.
- Harm: This element requires the actus reus to have caused damage or injury to another person, property, or society.
- Legality: This element requires that the act must be prohibited by law. A person cannot be punished for a show that is not illegal.
- Punishment: This element requires that there must be a prescribed punishment for the crime. A person cannot be punished for a crime that does not have a prescribed penalty.