Definition of mens rea in English:

mens rea


  • [mass noun] The intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that constitutes part of a crime, as opposed to the action or conduct of the accused.

    ‘a mistaken belief in consent meant that the defendant lacked mens rea’
    Compare with actus reus
    • ‘An injury caused without mens rea might be grounds for civil liability but typically not for criminal.’
    • ‘If there is no mens rea such as in an accident, an individual cannot be found guilty of a crime requiring criminal intent.’
    • ‘The mens rea or mental element of a crime is usually based on the intention of the accused at the time.’
    • ‘There was no requirement in the relevant act that his mens rea should relate to a named victim.’
    • ‘The lack of mens rea is what protects a two-year-old from facing charges of theft.’
    planning, intent, forethought, pre-planning, advance planning, prearrangement, deliberation
    View synonyms


Latin, literally guilty mind.


mens rea

/ˌmɛnz ˈriːə/