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Criminal Intent and Obtaining a Conviction

For some crimes, the government will need to prove that the accused actually intended to commit a crime. This is known as “mens rea,” and it is vital to the government’s case. If they cannot prove intent, then they cannot prove all elements of a crime, which will result in a Not Guilty verdict. An experienced defense lawyer can work to cast doubt on intent, and every other element of a particular charge, in order to obtain a Not Guilty verdict.

An example might be a woman charged with killing her husband. She has been charged with First Degree Murder, with the prosecution alleging that she poisoned her husband with a certain type of prescription drugs. In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution would need to prove that she intentionally harmed her husband. If the defense team can prove that she perhaps administered an incorrect dosage of a medication in error, the jury would have no choice but to return a verdict of Not Guilty.

A very high profile example of this was in the Casey Anthony case in Florida. Because the prosecution charged her with First Degree Murder, they needed to prove that Ms. Anthony murdered her young daughter intentionally. The jury was unable to determine that Ms. Anthony’s conduct had been intentional, so they found her Not Guilty. After the trial, some jurors commented that they thought that Ms. Anthony had somehow contributed to her child’s death, but they could not determine that the alleged conduct had been done intentionally.

It should be noted that not all criminal charges require intent. Charges that involve negligence or recklessness won’t need to show intentional behavior, so this example would not apply in those cases. A defense lawyer can fully explain your particular charges to determine if intent will come into play.

At Kroll & Johnson, we have helped many clients charged with serious crimes. We know how to investigate a case and know how to build reasonable doubt in the jury’s mind. For a free consultation to discuss your charges, contact Kroll & Johnson today for a free consultation.

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