Criminal Law

Topics: Law, Criminal law, Appeal Pages: 3 (1087 words) Published: January 10, 2014
“The Law of Intention, following the cases of Woolin (1999) 1 AC 82 and Matthews (2003) 2 Cr App R 30, is now satisfactorily defined in the criminal law”. Discuss.

Mens Rea refers to the guilty mind required for criminal liability. Intention and recklessness are the two forms of Mens Rea that are part of most offences and have been the subject of judicial scrutiny. There is a vast volume of case law on intention and recklessness which demonstrates the problems that courts have had in perfecting an appropriate definition. Mens Rea is concerned with the defendants state of mind at the time of the Actus Reus. It is difficult to prove what was in someones mind which partially explains why the courts struggle with these words. Intention is the most culpable form of mens Rea. This is because it is more blameworthy to cause harm deliberately (intention) than it is to do so carelessly (recklessness). Therefore intention is used in more serious offences. Murder requires intention to kill or cause GBH which sets it apart from other, less capable, forms of homicide. There is normally no need for an elaborate definition of intention in order to decide whether an Actus Reus was intended.

A few exceptional situations may present difficulty , but usually the analysis will be intuitively obvious. “The general legal opinion is that 'intention' cannot be satisfactorily defined and does not need a definition, since everybody knows what it means”. Lord Bridge in R v Moloney [1985] AC 905, 926 states that “the golden rule should be that the judge should avoid any elaboration paraphrase of what is meant by intent, and leave it to the jury's good sense to decide whether the accused acted with the necessary intent”. This is where the first form of intention, direct intention, falls under. Direct intention corresponds with the everyday meaning of intention. A person who has causing death as his aim, purpose or goal has direct intention to kill. It was defined in Mohan [1976] as...
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