Do "Risk takers" present problems for the courts?
- Definition of mens rea
- Two types of recklessness used by the courts
- The case R. v. Cunningham
- The case R v. Caldwell
The Latin phrase Mens rea refers to what the defendant was thinking while acting, and is essential to a criminal conviction. Mens rea is the culpable state of mind which needs to be with the actus reus in order to constitute a criminal offence. The proportion of mens rea required varies from one crime to another and there are four different types of mens rea defined: intention, recklessness, negligence and knowledge. "Risk takers" are normally only concerned with two types of mens rea: recklessness and negligence. They both refer to the way the accused appreciated the risk he/she took in doing his actions: did he/she foresee the risk and still went ahead with his actions? The answers to this question in theory define which type of mens rea is required in a particular crime. However, it is not always easy to determine which mens rea fits the crime. Therefore, it appears that "risk takers" present problems to the courts, in the way that they raise controversial debates about the precise definition of their mens rea