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actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea


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[Latin: an act is not necessarily a guilty act unless the accused has the necessary state of mind required for that offence]

The maxim that, generally, a person cannot be guilty of a crime unless two elements are present: the * actus reus(“guilty act”) and the * mens rea (“guilty mind”). Most criminal offences require (1) an actus reus (conduct “external” to the defendant's thoughts and intentions) and (2) a mens rea (a specific state of mind on the part of the accused).


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