All over the world, there seems to be a rise in nationalist sentiments and never before has the division between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ become so intense so as to spark heated debates between family members seemingly on the daily. One of the more recent topics of these debates includes the time when Rudy Giuliani argued that “collusion is not a crime.”
Veering away from the very sticky politics involved in this topic, let’s narrow down to the source of the confusion: what constitutes a crime? Remember, everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty, and many individuals post bail while awaiting a court appearance by calling a 24 hr bail bondsman in Birmingham al.
There are generally seven acknowledged elements of a crime that must exist in a single case to prove criminal liability and eventually lead to the conviction of a defendant. These are:
- Legality. This refers to the state of being in accordance with the law — which is different from abiding by it. The idea behind proving the legality of a crime is that there must be an existing law that is broken before an act can be considered a crime. Unless the law already clearly states an action as illegal before the act — and not after as in ex post facto laws — then it’s not a crime.
- Harm. This refers to whether the defendant directly causes or harm or injury to a victim. This could range from physically harming an individual victim to harming the state through actions unbefitting of a good citizen such as embezzlement. Any action that deprives victims of what is due to them is a harmful action.
- Causation. Causation, to be considered criminal, must contain two facets: it must be factual and legal. Considering both, the defendant must be the direct — as in the harm might not have happened without his intervention — and most closely related cause of harm. This is to ensure a level of fairness when it comes to considering harm caused indirectly.
- Mens Rea. Often translated as ‘mental state’, it’s also possible to think of Mens rea as ‘intent’. The purpose of determining Mens rea lies in the distinction between intentionally causing physical harm in a fight and committing a battery or unintentionally resulting to harm at the moment. The parameters of Mens rea depend on the crime, whether the intended act itself or the intended result is criminal, and whether guilt may be found in the “purposeful”, “knowing”, “reckless”, or “negligent” action.
- Actus Reus. Intent alone can’t be the basis of criminal liability, however. There needs to be an accompanying action, or the unlawful omission of an action, for a crime to be punishable by law. Put simply, actus reus is the execution of criminal intent by way of deeds or, in the case of threats and perjury, speech.
- Concurrence. Additionally, Mens rea and actus rea must exist simultaneously in a crime for it to be considered a crime.
- Punishment. After determining that a crime is punishable by law, the next aspect would be the determining and implementing the punishment that is equal to the degree of crime committed.
With these factors in mind, it should be easier to say what does or does not constitute a crime.