Classifying Crimes Kaplan University CJ 230 Professor Shipley October 8, 2011 When investigating crimes, two elements, Mens Rea, the mental element, and Actus Reus, the physical element, must be present. Mens Rea is “Latin for a guilty mind, or criminal intent in committing the act” (http://legal-dictionary. thefreedictionary. com/Mens+Rea). Actus Reus is “Latin for a “guilty act. ” The actus reus is the act which, in combination with a certain mental state, such as intent or recklessness, constitutes a crime” (http://www. law. cornell. edu/wex/actus_reus). My first crime is murder.
Under the Texas Penal Code, murder is committed when a person: “(1) intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual; (2) intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual; or (3) commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt, he commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual”(Tex.
Penal Code § 20. 04). The intent to cause bodily injury or death describes the mens rea, or the guilty mind, of this crime. The actus reus, or guilty act, of murder would be the actual commission of the crime. As described in the above statute, murder can also be committed while during the commission of another felony act, an individual commits a dangerous act that results in the death of another individual. The following scenario is an example of murder as described in Chapter 5 of the Texas Penal Code: A man walks into a convenience store brandishing a handgun.
He approaches the counter and demands that the person behind the counter put all of the money in the register and the safe into a bag and give him the bag. The person behind the counter does as he is told and begins to fill the bag with the cash when all of a sudden the man with the gun gets impatient, shoots the worker, grabs the bag and flees the store. The worker is pronounced dead at the hospital. The robber’s intention was just to rob the store, which is a felony, however, during the commission of that felony, he committed an act that caused the death of another individual, therefore, he committed murder. My next crime is robbery.
The Texas Penal Code states: (a) A person commits an offense if, in the course of committing theft as defined in Chapter 31 and with intent to obtain or maintain control of the property, he: (1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or (2) intentionally or knowingly threatens or places another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death. (b) An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree (Tex. Penal Code § 29. 02). The mens rea, or guilty mind, of robbery is the intent to cause bodily injury to another person or threatening to harm another while committing theft.
The actus reus, or the guilty act, is the actual committing of the bodily harm or the threatening to commit the bodily harm. An example of this type of crime would be a woman walks up to a man that is pulled over on the side of the road. She knocks on the driver’s side window and pretends to ask the man for directions. As the man rolls down the window, the woman pulls a gun and orders the man out of the car, threatening to shoot him if he doesn’t comply. The man, in fear for his life, gets out of the car and allows the woman to take it. She then takes off with the car.
Although the woman never injured the owner of the car, she threatened to harm him, or even kill him, if he didn’t turn the car over to her, therefore, she committed robbery. In order for a crime to be classified as a crime and punished under the law, the two elements, the mental element, or the mens rea, and the physical element, or the actus reus, need to be present. The statutes provided outline the elements required for the crime and the examples provide further explanation of how the elements of the crime come into play. References http://www. statutes. legis. state. tx. s/docs/PE/htm/PE. 19. htm http://www. law. cornell. edu/wex/actus_reus http://legal-dictionary. thefreedictionary. com/Mens+Rea https://www. lexis. com/research/retrieve? cc=&pushme=1&tmpFBSel=all&totaldocs=&taggedDocs=&tog gleValue=&numDocsChked=0&prefFBSel=0&delformat=XCITE&fpDocs=&fpNodeId=&fpCiteReq=&expNewLead=id%3D%22expandedNewLead%22&brand=&_m=4f6749de1aa61dfaa925dcdbd622a45b&docnum=1&_fmtstr=FULL&_startdoc=1&wchp=dGLbVzV-zSkAb&_md5=15f415ecd7a0367cc72bbf4eb9483a02&focBudTerms=&focBudSel=all