General and Specific Intent

General Intent
  • M/R directed at non-mental element of crime
  • Intent needed to complete the physical acts or circumstances of a crime (sometimes like "knowledge")
  • Example: a crime of 1. assault (ACT), 2. fed. officer (A/C), 3. performing duties (A/C)
    • There is still a general mental requirement that courts apply to the overall crime.
Specific Intent
  • M/R concerning matter which is not element of crime
  • A purely mental state specified in the statute and not related to physical act (something like "purpose")
  • Example: if crime above added 4. with purpose of impeding officer from duties, it's now SI because it lists a state of mind that must be proven.
  • Proving act alone not enough to prove SI crime
  • Some defenses only apply to SI crimes (vol. intox.)
Why know specific/general intent?
  • Specific intent more forgiving, can make mistakes of fact (even unreasonable). (Vs. general intent, must be "reasonable")
  • Specific intent, allow voluntary intoxication (vs. only involuntary intoxication for general intent)
  • MPC: Crimes should reflect culpability and there should be clarity
    • Reject specific/general intent (like 1/3 of states)
    • Vol. intox. is reckless conduct, can't negate reckless/negligent crimes, but if crime is purposeful or knowing, can introduce vol. intox. as effective defense by negating mental element.
Commonwealth v. Koczwara
  • Charged with crime of selling beer to minors (actually his employees). Public welfare "strict liability."
State v. Adjustment Department Credit Bureau
  • Two approaches:
    • 1. any agent under scope of their employment OR
    • (MPC) 2. crime itself must be authorized
View most interesting 'lawschool' photos on Flickriver

Related Notes

Related Commentary