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All offences, with the exception of those which are strict liability, require a prosecution to prove, as part of their case, that the defendant had the requisite mens rea, or criminal mind, required to commit the offence in question. This usually means proving intent or recklessness as to the actus reus. For example, to prove battery, a prosecution must prove that the defendant applied physical force to the victim and that he either intended to, or was reckless as to that application of force. Sometimes the actus reus and the mens rea do not need to correspond with each other; that is what this page will examine.
The correspondence principle
According to Glanville Williams, correspondence, as illustrated by crimes such as criminal damage, battery and causing grievous bodily harm with intent, is a subjectivist ideal. Many crimes breach this principle. Murder requires either an intention to kill or an intention ‘merely’ to cause grievous bodily harm, and unlawful act manslaughter can be committed with the mere intent to commit a battery, for example. Horder attempts to explain this divergence with his ‘proximity principle’ which stressed moral fault.
Crimes of negligence
Some offences use an objective mens rea as opposed to a subjective mens rea, arguably removing the requirement of a state of mind altogether. Rape is a good example of this; a jury is only asked to decide objectively whether the defendant had a reasonable belief of consent; what the defendant actually believed at the time is irrelevant...
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