mens rea

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mens rea

(māns rā′ă, mĕnz rē′ă) [L. “guilty mind”]
Criminal intent. In legal matters an unlawful act is considered to be a criminal act only when the person who commits it acts with criminal intent. From a psychological perspective, this means that minors, the mentally ill, and those affected by organic brain disease may commit unlawful acts but not be culpable of them in a court of law because they may not understand the nature and consequences of such acts.

mens rea (menzˑ rēˑ·),

n the intent of a crime—that is, the per-petrator's mental state regarding the act committed.