Definition of actus reus in US English:

actus reus


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

    ‘failure to prevent death may be the actus reus of manslaughter’
    Compare with mens rea
    • ‘Homicide, for example, is such a crime because you need to prove actus reus, mens rea, concurrence, causation, and harm.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


Latin, literally ‘guilty act’.


actus reus

/ˌaktəs ˈrēəs/