All crimes have two key parts: the act by the alleged perpetrator (known as the "actus reus") and the perpetrator's state of mind when the crime was committed (known as the "mens rea").
Specific Intent refers to the perpetrator's state of mind at the time of the commission of the crime. Specific intent requires not only doing an unlawful act, but the doing of it with a subjective intent or objective. Specific intent may be indicated by the use of such words as intentionally, knowingly, purposely, or willfully. Theft is a specific intent crime because not only must the defendant intentionally commit an act of taking of another's property, but also must act with the specific intent to permanently deprive an owner of the property. Compare this to General Intent, in which the perpetrator need only intend to commit an act which the law makes criminal.
Some of the major specific intent crimes are:
- Assault with intent to commit Robbery or Rape
- Child Molestation
- Premeditated Murder
- Theft & Robbery.
If you or someone you know is being charged with a crime, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn more about specific intent and general intent crimes.