Definition of mens rea in English:

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mens rea

Pronunciation: /menz ˈrēə/


The intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that constitutes part of a crime, as opposed to the action or conduct of the accused. Compare with actus reus.
Example sentences
  • An injury caused without mens rea might be grounds for civil liability but typically not for criminal.
  • There was no requirement in the relevant act that his mens rea should relate to a named victim.
  • The mens rea or mental element of a crime is usually based on the intention of the accused at the time.


Mid 19th century: Latin, literally 'guilty mind'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mens re·a

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