Definition of actus reus in English:

actus reus


  • Action or conduct that is a constituent element of a crime, as opposed to the mental state of the accused.

    Compare with mens rea
    • ‘Generally, before conviction for a crime can take place, it must be shown that the accused committed the actus reus by either intending to do so or behaving carelessly in doing so.’
    • ‘Now decide whether the elements of the actus reus are conduct, prohibited consequences, or circumstances.’
    • ‘The remaining portion would merely have held the intent to do so and lacked the required actus reus.’
    • ‘A person has committed the actus reus of a crime with the appropriate mens rea.’
    • ‘Homicide, for example, is such a crime because you need to prove actus reus, mens rea, concurrence, causation, and harm.’


Early 20th century: Latin, literally guilty act.


actus reus

/ˌaktəs ˈrēəs//ˈrāəs/