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The Notion Of Criminal Intent: The Evolution Of Mens Rea In Criminal Law
This thesis evaluates the legal concept of mens rea to better understand its meaning and significance in criminal law. Included in this thesis is the examination of the evolution of criminal law from Roman law to today's Canadian criminal law, through the lens of the foundational principle of mens rea, through its application in numerous Supreme Court of Canada cases, has either reinforced the interpretation of laws or set out a new framework on how the law should be interpreted. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how mens rea guided criminal law by emphasizing the purpose of the justice system, the purpose and significance of the mental element within an offence; how the law is interpreted using the concept of mens rea, the degree of culpability within an offence; and a higher standard of burden of proof. Mens rea has many functions such as to guard against the wrongful conviction of morally innocent individuals and to protect our society from those who caused harm. Mens rea also helps distinguish between the degrees of moral blameworthiness within each crime and to understand the concept of burden of proof. Lastly, mens rea is critical in a court's determining of appropriate punishment. Finally, this thesis links the concept of mens rea to legal defences in criminal law.
Criminal lawSubjective liabilityCriminal intentMoral blameworthinessCriminal culpabilityLegal defenceMental disorderThesisMens reaObjective liability
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Undergraduate Student Research