In criminal law, basic intent, specific intent, and ulterior intent are often used to describe different levels of mental state required to prove certain crimes. Here's a breakdown of what each term means:
Basic intent refers to the general intention, recklessness or negligence to commit a criminal act, without the specific intention to achieve a particular purpose. This level of intent is often required to prove crimes such as assault, battery, or manslaughter, where the act itself is enough to establish guilt.
Specific intent refers to the intention to achieve a specific outcome of the criminal act. This level of intent is often required to prove more serious crimes, such as murder or theft, where the prosecution must prove that the defendant had a specific intent to achieve a specific outcome.
Ulterior intent refers to a hidden or secondary intention to bring about a consequence beyond the criminal act. This level of intent is often required to prove certain crimes, such as burglary with intent and wounding with intent, where the defendant had a specific motive beyond the act itself. In burglary, the ulterior intent is the intention to commit theft, causing grievous bodily harm, or causing criminal damage, having entered the building as a trespasser as the first intent.
You can find out more about these topics and relevant case law with our Criminal Law notes.