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Also called external elements of a crime. Important in criminal law. Transgresses moral or civil law.

Material element of crime, Latin phrase for guilty act or criminal action committed by the accused that leads to legal prosecution. Equivalent to the deed of crime. Combines the mental state such as intent or recklessness, which constitutes a crime. “This element may be the commission of an action that is forbidden (for instance, assault and battery), or it may be the failure to perform an action that is required (for instance, a person's refusal to stop and render aid to a motor vehicle accident victim).” (US Info) Both action or inaction are prosecutable crimes. It can be stealing something that isn’t yours or being drunk behind the wheel.

History:
“Derived from the principle stated by Edward Coke, namely, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means: "an act does not make a person guilty unless (their) mind is also guilty", i.e., the general test is one that requires proof of fault, culpability or blameworthiness both in behavior and mind.” (Wikipedia)

    Two components of every criminal offense:
  • One is objective and the other is subjective
  • One is physical and the other is mental
  • One is actus reus and the other is mens rea
    • Also called the two elements: performing the act (actus reus), and the intent to commit the act (mens rea).

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