Sample Critical Thinking Paper on Criminal Law

Question 1

Specific intent is popularly used in Tort and Criminal Law to show the required special state of mind, together with a physical act to comprise some torts or crimes. The interpretation of a specific intent typically implies the act was intentional. Courts define specific intent as subjective knowledge that the forbidden outcome will take place. Based on the supposed offense, both criminal prosecutors and tort plaintiffs may be required to show that the offender acted with a specific intent.

General intent

It refers to the state of mind needed by the commission of some popular law crimes that do not require specific intent and it normally take the form of negligence or carelessness. It only requires evidence that the defendant had an aim of performing the prohibited act.

Transferred intent

It refers to a doctrine that enables the defendant to be held accountable for an intentional tort he aimed at committing a crime against A, but, instead, unintentionally committed against B. This implies that the defendant aimed at committing battery, assault, false imprisonment against A, but in an effort to commit one of these crimes against A, unintentionally commits the tort against B, the defendant may be held accountable for the tort against B (, 2014.

Strict Liability

It refers to a liability whereby there is no need to prove mens rea in relation to one or more elements consisting the actus reus, even though knowledge or recklessness may be required in relation to other elements of the crimes. The liability is considered strict because offenders will be condemned even though they were sincerely unaware of one or more factors that made their actions to be deemed criminal. Examples of criminal law include statutory rape and possession crimes.

Question 2

There are various differences that prevail between the Common Law and the Model Penal Code under Mens Rea as explained below:

First, a Common Law is a Criminal Negligence whereby there is gross inattentiveness and lack of proficiency. There is also criminal indifference and gross deviation that is equal to the carelessness implying that one is informed of the substantial risk caused by disregarding that particular risk. On the other hand, a Medal Penal Code is a criminal negligence implying that an individual should be informed of the unjustifiable and material danger that a material element will prevail (Garland, 2012). Additionally, risks are supposed to be of nature and of the level that if one does not perceive them, it may result to a gross deviance from the standard care of a reasonable individual.

Second, under the Common Law, a specific intent necessitates the real intention to do more that actus reus. General malice is not an effort to commit an offense even if its outcome may be a substantial risk. On the other hand, the Model Penal Code does not show the difference between a specific and general intent, but it focuses on what is required for every crime.

Third, under the Common Law, the knowledge of the majority and minority is a subjective and objective test respectively. Thoughtful illiteracy and positive knowledge have similar culpability. Knowingly is not restricted to positive knowledge, but it entails a state of mind of an individual who does not have positive knowledge only because it intentionally avoided it. However, under MPC, the knowledge of both the minority and majority is subjective test. If an individual is not informed of the increased chances of existing of a specific act, unless if one really believes it does not prevail, he is deemed culpable (Garland, 2012). If there is a high chance of existence, then knowledge is established.

Strict Liability

A Common Law is said to be a Malum prohibit, for instance, bigamy and Statutory rape and one is not required to show culpable mental state. On the other hand, the Model Penal Code can only be said to be a violation if there are minor crimes, but not offenses (Reitz & Liebman, 2003.


Under a Common Law, there are four ways through which mens rea requirement can be satisfied  and they include intent to commit murder, intent to compel serious bodily injury, reckless meaninglessness to the significance of human life, and intent to commit a risky felony whereby bootstrapping is not allowed. There must be evidence that death has taken place and Res gestae does not only show the real facts of the transactions and the situations surrounding it, but the issues immediately antecedent and have an interrelationship with it and also the actions that immediately follow it. On the other hand, there are three ways used to prove a Model Penal Code for instance it should be knowingly and purposefully, carelessly showing extreme indifference to human life (subject perception of recklessness and depraved heart). The common law takes into consideration both the first degree that entails poisoning, felony, and deliberates among others and second degree comprise of no intent to murder and depravity of heart. On the other hand, the Model Penal Code only has the first degree.


An attempt under the Common Law is aimed at committing an offense and carrying out an act towards its commissions plus not committing a crime. The effort is trying to commit a crime after all preparations have been made. However, under the Model Penal Code, an attempt implies element of crime. It is also believed that an attempt can cause the result without any other conduct.

Under the Common Law, there exists a dangerous proximity test that focuses on what is yet to be done. It is also centered on the actions of the actor, and if the previous proximate act is performed, it is usually sufficient, but not always a requirement (Garland, 2012). Conversely, an attempt under the MPC is said to be a subjective test that is centered on what has already been committed, persistently involved in conduct that would comprise of a crime if the situation were, as he believes it to be. The Common Law further states that there must be culpability to commit an offense implying that there may be no efforts of negligent homicide. The Model Penal Code states that, there are six situations that should not be considered unsatisfactory as a matter of law and they include: illegal entry, ownership of materials designed in a special way, ownership of materials that are located near the place of commission, searching for, lying in wait, and following the offender, investigating the place contemplated, and requesting an agent to take part in conduct.

Legal impossibility under the Model Penal Code is the only defense while under the Common Law, the legal impossibility is the overall defense (Garland, 2012). The court also considers objective acts carried out to find out criminality without depending on accompanying men’s real.


Garland, Norman. (2012).Criminal Law for the Criminal Justice Professional, 3rd Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.,.(2014). Strict Liability. (2014).Transferred Intent

Reitz, K., & Liebman, L. (2003).Model penal code (1st ed.). Philadelphia, Pa.: American Law Institute.