Intent is notoriously difficult to prove because it is trapped in the defendant`s mind. Normally, the only direct evidence of intent is the confession of an accused, which the government cannot obtain by force because of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Witnesses who hear that the defendant expresses his intention often cannot testify because the rules of evidence prohibit hearsay. However, many jurisdictions allow conclusions about general intent to be drawn based on the criminal act (Commonwealth v. Ely, 2011). Essentially, if the jury accepts the finding, the prosecution does not have the burden of proof for a general intentional offence. In administrative law, the courts also have the power to determine the intent of Parliament for the purposes of legal interpretation. In doing so, the courts are primarily guided by the language of the law as understood in the codification. It should be noted that the courts sometimes also take the omission of certain wording as an indication of legislative intent. The courts also consider the circumstances in which the law was passed, the purpose and the legislative history. In this case, the issue was whether the wording of the statute “with intent to cause death or serious bodily harm” applied to the unconditional or conditional intent of a defendant. The court noted that while interpretation of the sentence suggests that Congress intended to “provide federal punishment only for carjackings where the author actually attempted to injure or kill the driver.
that a reasonable reading of the carjacking law suggests that Congress intended to criminalize a wider range of conduct than attempted assault or murder during a car theft.  The Court therefore upheld Holloway`s conviction and held that a defendant`s conditional intent may be an element of a federal crime, depending on the context and purpose of the legislation. Justified murder is homicide that is justified in the circumstances. An example of justified murder is when a law enforcement officer shoots and kills a fugitive criminal to prevent imminent serious bodily harm or death. This murder is intentional and intentional with malicious intent, but it is not criminal. The reasoning denies the crime and the law enforcement officer is not convicted of murder. For a full discussion of the use of lethal force by law enforcement to arrest or apprehend a criminal accused, see Chapter 5, Criminal Defence, Part 1. Other justification-based defenses of murder include self-defense, defense of others, and defense of the home.
Intent is also sometimes at the heart of contracts when a court finds the existence of a contract or interprets the terms of the contract. In these situations, the courts determine the objective intention of the parties by examining the language used in the contract when it was concluded; The subjective or secret intent of the parties is ignored. If the wording of the contract is ambiguous, Parol Evidence Rule allows courts to consider external evidence when determining the intention of the parties. A defendant who acts intentionally intends to engage in such conduct and intends to bring about a certain result (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann., 2011). Intentional criminal intent is similar to the specific intent to cause harm discussed above. The Model Penal Code provides: “A person intentionally acts in relation to an essential element of a criminal offence if: (i) if that element relates to the nature of his conduct or one of its results, he or she deliberately intends to engage in such conduct or to bring about such a result” (Model Penal Code, § 2.02 (2)(a)). Malevolence is a particular intent of the common law that targets only one crime: murder. The definition of malice is “intent to kill.” Society considers intent to kill to be the worst of intentions, so malicious crimes such as first- and second-degree murder typically require the harshest penalties, including the death penalty in jurisdictions that allow it. Intent and criminal murder are discussed in detail in Chapter 9, Criminal Homicide.
Murder is a crime that has elements of foul play, criminal intent, causation and harm. In this section, you will learn about the elements of murder. In the following sections, you will learn about the factors that classify murder as first-degree homicide, felony, and second-degree homicide. This distinction is important because they have different standards of proof. For reasons of general intent, the prosecution need only prove that the accused intended to commit the act in question, whereas proof of concrete intent would require the prosecution to prove that the defendant intended to bring about some consequence by his actions or that he committed the act for an erroneous purpose. It should be noted that because of the confusion surrounding general and specific intentions, some jurisdictions have adopted the Model Penal Code approach of proving intent by showing an accused`s degree of certainty that his or her conduct would lead to a certain outcome. The specific intent to kill the victim corresponds to the intentionally lethal mindset of the Model Penal Code and is often referred to as explicit malice (N.R.S., 2011). Intent to cause grievous bodily harm corresponds to the lethal psychological conditions knowingly or recklessly set out in the Model Penal Code and is often referred to as implicit malice. Serious bodily harm is a technical term and is usually defined in state law or case law. The Model Penal Code defines grievous bodily harm as “bodily harm that poses a substantial risk of death or causes severe and permanent disfigurement or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of a limb or organ” (Model Penal Code, § 210.0(3)). The corrupt intent of the heart is also an implicit malice (N.R.S., 2011) and corresponds to the knowingly or recklessly murderous psychological states of the Model Penal Code, depending on the circumstances. Isabella, a housewife with no criminal record, sits quietly in court, waiting to hear the jury`s verdict in a trial for the rape of her teenage daughter by Ignatius.
Ignatius was convicted of child rape in three previous cases. The president of the jury announces the decision in which Ignatius is found not guilty. Ignatius looks over Isabella`s shoulder and smiles. Isabelle calmly pulls out a loaded revolver from her purse and shoots and kills Ignatius. In this case, Isabella`s motive is revenge for the rape of her teenage daughter or the desire to protect other women from Ignatius` behavior. This motive produced Isabella`s criminal intent, which is malice or intent to kill. Despite Isabella`s motive, which is understandable under the circumstances, Isabella can be convicted of murder because she had to deal with the mens rea murder. However, Isabella`s motive can be introduced during sentencing and lead to a reduced sentence such as life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. In addition, Isabella`s motive may influence a prosecutor`s decision to seek the death penalty in the first place, as this would likely be rejected by the public. The doctrine of lethal weapons suggests intent to kill when the defendant uses a lethal weapon (People v. Carines, 2011). A judge can order jurors to infer the natural and probable consequences of the crime, which are death if a deadly weapon is used.
This essentially relieves the burden of having to prove criminal intent to murder. As mentioned earlier, the damaging element of murder is the death of a victim. With the advent of survival machines, jurisdictions had to come up with a definition of death. A victim is legally dead if the entire brain, including the brain stem, is irreversibly interrupted (Uniform Death Determination Act, 2010). Victor brags to his girlfriend Tanya that he can shoot into a crowd in the subway without hitting any of them. Tanya challenges Victor to try. Victor pulls out a pistol hidden from his belt and shoots a group of people who turn their backs on him. The shot kills Monica, who is closest to Victor.
In this case, Victor had no intention of shooting Monica. In fact, Victor`s goal was to shoot and miss all standing subway passengers. However, Victor knew he was firing a loaded gun (the nature of the act) and was also virtually certain that shooting at a crowd would result in injury or death to someone. Victor knowingly acted in accordance with the Model Penal Code. If the state in which Victor shoots Monica defines intent to kill as knowingly under the Model Penal Code, then Victor most likely committed murder in that case.