Mens Rea Doctrine

Mens Rea Doctrine

 

in bourgeois criminal law, the concept that criminal responsibility should be determined not by the harm a person has caused, but by his intent. The mens rea doctrine is characterized by a denial of the generally recognized bourgeois democratic principles of legality. In fact, it justifies repression of an alleged criminal on the basis of his state of mind. The meaning of the mens rea doctrine appears particularly clearly in the evaluative theory of guilt, which treats guilt not as a psychological relationship to one’s wrongdoing but as the “reproachability of will formation.” This attitude allows for the arbitrary evaluation of the purpose of an action and frees the prosecution from the necessity of demonstrating in court that the accused is guilty of committing the given crime.

The mens rea doctrine has been most widely applied in the Federal Republic of Germany.

References in periodicals archive ?
The author examines the mens rea doctrine in the criminal law of various jurisdictions.
Its own conduct in the Enron matter had a lot to do with that, of course, but so did the overzealousness of federal prosecutors in exploiting the serious imperfections in federal mens rea doctrine.
The Supreme Court should repudiate the notion that avoiding conviction of morally blameless conduct is the only goal of mens rea doctrine.
Finally, courts should substantially overhaul federal mens rea doctrine.
At the level of theory, the goal of mens rea doctrine is sound but unduly narrow.
In addition to making disproportionate punishment a proper concern of mens rea doctrine, courts should free the prevailing federal method of selecting mens rea levels from the shackles that prevent it from achieving its important goal of aligning punishment and blameworthiness.
This more robust mens rea doctrine could be the single most important contribution the courts could make to avoiding the qualitative problems associated with overcriminalization.
Although I agree with Meyer's descriptive claim, I do not share his belief that federal mens rea doctrine is necessarily doomed to fail as long as it relies on judicial decisionmaking to exclude blameless conduct from punishment.
255 (2000), for example, the Court declared that mens rea doctrine "requires a court to read into a statute only that mens rea which is necessary to separate wrongful conduct from 'otherwise innocent conduct.
Supreme Court mens rea doctrine criticizing threshold culpability's inadequacy in assuring proportional liability, see Stephen F.