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) is the mental element of a person's intention to commit a crime; or knowledge that one's action or lack of action would cause a crime to be committed. The standard common law test of criminal liability is expressed in the Latin phrase actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, i.e."the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty".Where the offence is in legislation, the requisite mens rea is found by interpreting the intention of the legislation.Mens Rea in the Indian Penal Code 1860 sets out the definition of offences, the general conditions of liability, the conditions of exemptions from liability and punishments for the respective offences.In Australia, mens rea is now called "fault elements" or "mental elements" and actus reus is now called "physical elements" or "external elements".The point of the changes was to replace Latin with plain English.But if a tort is intentionally committed or a contract is intentionally breached, such intent may increase the scope of liability and the damages payable to the plaintiff.
Since its publication in 1957, the formulation of mens rea set forth in the Model Penal Code has been highly influential throughout the US in clarifying the discussion of the different modes of culpability.
In jurisdictions with due process, there must be both actus reus ("guilty act") and mens rea for a defendant to be guilty of a crime (see concurrence).
As a general rule, someone who acted without mental fault is not liable in criminal law. In civil law, it is usually not necessary to prove a subjective mental element to establish liability for breach of contract or tort, for example.
For example, malice aforethought is used as a requirement for committing capital murder.
The Supreme Court of Canada has found that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees a minimum requirement for the mental state of various crimes.