Elements of crime related to homicides
The word homicide comes from the Latin word homicidium (homo – human being, caedere – to cut, to kill). It refers to the act of a human killing a human being. At earliest common law, all homicides were punishable by death. Now, however, all states recognize different categories of homicide ranging from the most heinous, murder, to the lesser crime of manslaughter. Homicides are part of the criminal law; therefore, they have the same elements which are appropriate for crimes.
There are three common elements in all crimes: mens rea (“guilty mind”), actus reus (“wrongful deed”) and causation. Many jurists also include concurrence (both the mens rea and actus reus must be connected). Mens rea or intent means that the criminal act must be voluntary or purposeful. It varies depending on the offense. For murder, the most heinous homicide, the mental element requires the defendant acted with “malice aforethought”. The malice aforethought distinguishes murder from manslaughter. The four states of mind that are said to make up malice aforethought are: the intent to kill, the intent to inflict great bodily injury, the intent to commit a felony or awareness of high risk of death or serious bodily injury. On the other hand, manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The person accused for manslaughter didn’t have the intent to do a homicide, so guilty mind isn’t required. Actus reus (wrongful deed) is the second element of crimes. It refers to the criminal act or an unlawful omission of an act that must have occurred. So, if someone just thinks about killing someone else, they cannot be punished. The murder must be proven. In respect of manslaughter, actus reus is essential element too. There is no crime; there is no homicide without this element. Concurrence means that mens rea and actus reus occur at the same time. The murder is perfect example for...
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