Mens Rea

MPC levels of culpability:
  • Purposeful
  • Knowing
  • Reckless: know vs. should have known
  • Negligent: different than tort negligence, must be gross deviation
Three questions for every statute:
  • 1. GI or SI? (less important in MPC)
  • 2. Level dimension (what is the level of mens rea: P, K, R or N?)
  • 3. Object dimension (to which elements does M/R attach?)
State v. Perry
  • College student in MN, lived in dorm, would get dressed in front of window (didn't close blinds), seen by passer's-by
  • Charged with indecent exposure.
  • Found guilty by trial court of intentional exposure, overturned on appeal by supreme court of the state due to lack of appropriate mens rea (specific intent, in this case).
    • Act must be "intentional, willful, and lewd."
    • But dissent finds it difficult to believe the lack of intent (purposeful or knowing), based on the circumstances.
  • Extra requirement of specific intent.
    • Extra-special mental element required for the particular crime.
    • In this case, special intent to be lewd.
    • In contrast to the general intent (the mental state associated with the crime)
United States v. Villegas
  • Vials of blood washed up on the shoreline.
  • General intent level of culpability:
    • "Knowing" = "substantial certainty"/"practical certainty"
    • Subjectively understood by defendant
    • Sometimes "high probability" standard tends to be used about knowledge at the time of the crime (that something was actually drugs, etc.)
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