Legal Dictionary

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Actus Reus

Actus Reus is Latin for “guilty act.” It is usually referred to in combination with the term “Mens Rea,” which means “guilty mind.” In order for a person to be criminally liable for doing something, they need to have done it with criminal intent or recklessness. For example, if Frank takes a stranger's coat from a hook in a restaurant, thinking it is his, it is not theft. But if Frank takes a strangers coat (Actus Reus) with the intent to steal it (Mens Rea) it is theft.