Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

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DocHawkeye
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Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby DocHawkeye » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:15 pm

and intent in tort law?

To me, these two concepts seem to be virtually identical. The second restatement of torts (section 1) defines intent as acting with "purpose" or being "substantially certain"

Section 2.02 of the Model Penal Code defines Culpability as acting, among others, purposely when "...it is his conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature..." or knowingly when "...it is practically certain that his conduct will cause such a result."

Is there a difference other than semantics here (I know one is a civil definition and one is criminal...)?

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kalvano
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby kalvano » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:47 pm

Mens rea is for criminal law.

Intent is for tort law.

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DocHawkeye
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby DocHawkeye » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:48 pm

kalvano wrote:Mens rea is for criminal law.

Intent is for tort law.


Obviously. But is there a real difference aside from that?

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Tanicius
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby Tanicius » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:59 pm

DocHawkeye wrote:
kalvano wrote:Mens rea is for criminal law.

Intent is for tort law.


Obviously. But is there a real difference aside from that?



I would not agonize over trying to draw a distinction between these concepts. It really won't help you on tests. Stick to the vocabulary used in each course or the professor will just assume you don't understand the material.

dakatz
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby dakatz » Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:01 pm

It is apples and oranges that are discussed in two entirely different context, and it would never benefit you to mention one in the discussion of the other. I've never even considered this question, as interesting as it may seem, but I don't think there is any need to. Law school is filled with enough questions and conundrums to keep you occupied. Might as well stay focused on the ones that will get you points on exams.

mrloblaw
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby mrloblaw » Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:28 pm

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned this...the mens rea required for a crime is not always intent. There are lots of crimes penalized for lesser mental states, even where not based off the four-levels-of-culpability model of the MPC (e.g. depraved heart murder).

And as others have mentioned, there's absolutely no utility to making the comparison.

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Borhas
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby Borhas » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:35 pm

DocHawkeye wrote:
kalvano wrote:Mens rea is for criminal law.

Intent is for tort law.


Obviously. But is there a real difference aside from that?


yes, mens rea is for criminal law

intent is for tort law

zomginternets
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby zomginternets » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:00 am

As a 1L, the only relevant difference is that one is used for tort law and one is used for crim. Substantively, the test is the same (desire or knowledge to a substantial certainty). However, as above posters said, absolutely do not use the terms interchangeably in writing your torts exam.

As a 2L, if you are still agonizing over whether there really is a difference or not, you can write your law review comment on it.

sweatingbanshee
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby sweatingbanshee » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:50 pm

Whether intent is discussed in criminal law or in tort law, it essentially encompasses the two Model Penal Code mental states of acting purposefully or knowingly in achieving a certain result.

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orm518
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby orm518 » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:58 pm

mrloblaw wrote:I'm surprised that no one has mentioned this...the mens rea required for a crime is not always intent. There are lots of crimes penalized for lesser mental states, even where not based off the four-levels-of-culpability model of the MPC (e.g. depraved heart murder).

And as others have mentioned, there's absolutely no utility to making the comparison.


TITCR.

In torts, intent means you act either with the purpose or the substantial certainty of result, say for battery, you either act with the purpose of making the harmful or offensive contact or you act with substantial certainty that your action will result in the harmful or offensive contact.

In Crim, mens rea describes the mental state to which we prescribe criminal culpability. This is not always intent, or substantial certainty (called knowingly by the Model Penal Code), as the poster I quoted points out. Some crimes have "lower" mens rea requirements: recklessness (you considered the results and did it anyways) or negligence (the criminal result never occurred to you, but it was unreasonable for it not to have occurred to you).

There's some difference between the MPC and the common law on punishing people in the negligence category, but that's beyond the scope of your question.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:49 pm

sweatingbanshee wrote:Whether intent is discussed in criminal law or in tort law, it essentially encompasses the two Model Penal Code mental states of acting purposefully or knowingly in achieving a certain result.


Not necessarily (though many people define specific intent crimes this way). (Compare Model Penal Code with NY Penal code or TX Penal code--for the latter two codes, their definition of intent=purpose.)

Take away point for OP? Mens Rea is a mess when looking at the CL and can be defined in a broad way or more narrow way (see Dressler, Understanding Criminal Law for this point). You want to ask this question purely in comparing the MPC's purpose to intent in torts (if you can find an agreed definition). But really, I would try to not let the two classes bleed into one another, because you'll probably just end up confusing yourself (especially if causation is taught differently, which it most likely is).

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Heartford
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby Heartford » Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:52 pm

orm518 wrote:
mrloblaw wrote:I'm surprised that no one has mentioned this...the mens rea required for a crime is not always intent. There are lots of crimes penalized for lesser mental states, even where not based off the four-levels-of-culpability model of the MPC (e.g. depraved heart murder).

And as others have mentioned, there's absolutely no utility to making the comparison.


TITCR.

In torts, intent means you act either with the purpose or the substantial certainty of result, say for battery, you either act with the purpose of making the harmful or offensive contact or you act with substantial certainty that your action will result in the harmful or offensive contact.

In Crim, mens rea describes the mental state to which we prescribe criminal culpability. This is not always intent, or substantial certainty (called knowingly by the Model Penal Code), as the poster I quoted points out. Some crimes have "lower" mens rea requirements: recklessness (you considered the results and did it anyways) or negligence (the criminal result never occurred to you, but it was unreasonable for it not to have occurred to you).

There's some difference between the MPC and the common law on punishing people in the negligence category, but that's beyond the scope of your question.


+1. There are also strict liability crimes-those for which mens rea is not an element. Like speeding.

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orm518
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby orm518 » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:15 pm

Heartford wrote:+1. There are also strict liability crimes-those for which mens rea is not an element. Like speeding.


Yeah, for instance in about 20 states (MA being one) statutory rape age of consent elements are strict liability. Even if you had a reasonable belief, heck even if you see his/her ID, if the other person is under the age of consent, you have violated the statute.

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Bronte
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby Bronte » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:26 pm

What's all this intent is for torts and mens rea is for criminal law? Those kinds of distinctions are outdated common law confusions. The correct term is "mental state" (use English). The MPC has the most rigorous and correct definition of the four mental states: purpose, knowledge, reckless, and negligent. The latter is readily applicable to tort law and a variety of other areas of civil law.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:49 pm

Bronte wrote:What's all this intent is for torts and mens rea is for criminal law? Those kinds of distinctions are outdated common law confusions. The correct term is "mental state" (use English). The MPC has the most rigorous and correct definition of the four mental states: purpose, knowledge, reckless, and negligent. The latter is readily applicable to tort law and a variety of other areas of civil law.


If a state has not adopted article 2 from the MPC (or something similar), then the MPC's definitions of the mental states are NOT the correct definition for that particular state. And caselaw in torts in a state may not match up with the MPC. I agree that MPC's breakdown is very good, and I like it the best--but that doesn't make it automatically "correct" for everywhere.

paulinaporizkova
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby paulinaporizkova » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:50 pm

this thread gets a big ole 120

mrloblaw
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Re: Is there a meaningful difference between mens rea...

Postby mrloblaw » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:54 pm

Bronte wrote:What's all this intent is for torts and mens rea is for criminal law? Those kinds of distinctions are outdated common law confusions. The correct term is "mental state" (use English). The MPC has the most rigorous and correct definition of the four mental states: purpose, knowledge, reckless, and negligent. The latter is readily applicable to tort law and a variety of other areas of civil law.


News: The American legal system = Malformed amalgamation of outdated common law confusions.




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