Transferred mens rea

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Most criminal offences require an element of Mens Rea, that is, a blameworthy state of mind (see: Mens Rea). However, the Mens Rea need not be directed against the victim of the Actus reus, but to some third party. This deals with cases where, for example, X means to shoot Y, but shoots Z instead. X is guilty of the same offence as if he had shot Y. Many authorities believe that this principle is without logical basis, but without it there is difficulty in maintaining the widely-accepted principle that Mens Rea and Actus Reus are coincident.

Criminal Law