The Success of the Courts in Defining Intention Essay

The Success of the Courts in Defining Intention Essay

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The Success of the Courts in Defining Intention
The Mens Rea of a crime refers to the mental element or the state of
mind the defendant possesses in order to be liable for an offence.
Mens Rea can be any one of four elements, Transferred Malice,
Recklessness, Gross Negligence or Intention. It is crimes of specific
intent such as murder which require a Mens Rea of either direct or
oblique intent. Direct intent is where the defendant desires the
consequences and it is his or her purpose to achieve these
consequences. An example of direct intent would be September 11th
2001. Oblique intent is where the defendant doesn’t desire the
consequences but it is a virtually certain result of their actions.
It is this area of intention that has caused problems and confusion in
the law.

In order to prove intention the jury must decide how foreseeable the
defendant’s actions were to cause the consequences. There is however
two measures used for foreseeability, highly probable and virtually
certain. Unfortunately it has not been made clear which measure to
follow. The current state of the law on intention was expressed by
the House of Lords in the case of R v Woollin 1998. This case
modified an earlier direction made by the Court of Appeal in the case
of R v Nedrick. In Woollin the law lords expressed that intention can
only be established if the defendant knew that the consequences would
be a virtually certain result of his actions. However this has not
always been the case.

The first major case in determining intention was the case of DPP v
Hyam 1975 where the defendant poured pe...


... middle of paper ...


...rts the Law
Commission’s view that both direct and oblique intent should continue
to satisfy the legal requirements of intention.

In conclusion, the explanation of foresight of consequences in
Nedrick, where appropriate, are relevant to all offences and not just
murder. The Criminal Law now states that a consequence is intended
when it is the purpose of the accused. A court or jury may also infer
that a consequence is intended, though it is not desired, when the
consequence is a virtually certain result of the act and when the
accused knows that it is a virtually certain consequence. This area
of law has proved to be confusing to both juries and judges due to the
uncertainty of precedent. As the law stands today it appears to have
reached a decision of virtually certain but as before is not certain
to remain.

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