Brief Fact Summary. This case explains the historical perspective behind the concept of mens rea and also highlights the public policies behind this concept. No exact factual scenario was presented by either of the two excerpts of this case in the Dressler book. This case is merely offered by way of background material for subsequent cases involving more complex issues of mens rea.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The term mens rea has two competing meanings. On one hand, the broad view of mens rea simply means “guilty mind.” Under this definition, an individual will be found guilty for any criminal act (actus reus) that he committed while having any morally culpable or blameworthy state of mind. On the other hand, the narrow view of mens rea provides that an individual is not guilty of an offense, even if he had a guilty state of mind, where the individual’s state of mind does not match the mental state specified in the definition of the charged crime.
The definition of the elements of a criminal offense is entrusted to the legislature, particularly in the case of federal crimes, which are solely creatures of statute.View Full Point of Law