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What is Specific Intent?

Specific Intent

Specific intent in criminal law refers to the mental state or level of awareness that a person has when they commit a criminal act with the intention of achieving a particular outcome or result beyond just the act itself.

This means that the person not only intended to commit the act but also had a further intention or knowledge beyond it. For example, in the case of theft, specific intent would mean that the person intended to take the property with the knowledge that it did not belong to them and with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it.

Other examples of crimes that require specific intent include:

Burglary: the intent to enter a building with the intent to commit a crime inside.

Fraud: the intent to deceive or misrepresent the truth for financial or personal gain.

Murder: the intent to kill another person.

In cases where a crime requires specific intent, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the necessary mental state at the time of the crime. If the prosecution cannot prove the specific intent, the defendant may not be found guilty of the crime, or they may be convicted of a lesser offence that does not require specific intent.

You can learn more about this topic and relevant case law with our Criminal Law notes.

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