What is mens rea?
Mens rea (Also known as malice or intent) is a legal concept that refers to an intentional action to cause damage or commit a crime knowing its illegality. It is considered what we call a «consent vice».
That is, intent implies an intellectual element that is the full knowledge that such conduct is wrong or illegal and the person in question intends to carry it out anyway (which would be «doing something bad on purpose»).
For someone to be considered guilty of a malicious act, two main requirements must be met, which we will explain through this example:
Álvaro wants to take revenge on his neighbor Pedro because they had a conflict last year. Instead of resolving things peacefully, Álvaro decides to carry out a malicious plan to harm Pedro, consisting of sneaking into Pedro’s garden and destroying all the plants.
- Intent (wanting to do so): Álvaro acted with the clear intention of harming Pedro by destroying his plants and dirtying his garden. His action was not accidental or fortuitous.
- Knowledge of the illegality (knowing what you are doing): Álvaro knew that his action was wrong and harmful. Aware that he was trespassing on Pedro’s property to cause harm, he carried out his plan with full awareness of the consequences.