Criminal Intent or State of Mind

charge of accomplice

An individual cannot be held guilty of a crime unless he possessed the necessary state of mind when he committed the offense. The state of mind requirement may be satisfied if the actions of the accused were purposeful, knowing, reckless or negligent.

 New Jersey’s criminal code defines these terms as follows:

  • Purposeful: An individual acts purposely when he possesses the conscious object to engage in the conduct or bring about the anticipated result.
  • Knowing: Conduct is committed knowingly where an individual is aware of the nature of his actions or a significantly likelihood that they exist.
  • Reckless: An individual acts recklessly where he consciously disregards a significant likelihood that he will bring about a result.
  • Negligent: Conduct is negligent under the criminal code where it is committed in the face of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the offense will result from his or her actions.

If a particular NJ criminal law requires causation, this element is satisfied if the result would not have occurred but for the conduct in question. Additionally, the result must be within the design and contemplation of the defendant where the particular statute requires purposely or knowingly causing a result. A result is recklessly or negligently caused under New Jersey criminal code where the defendant is aware of the risk involved and the resulting harm is reasonably probable. Causation is not negated for purposes of criminal prosecution just because the injury or harm is less or more serious than what was contemplated.

Our criminal lawyers are ready to assist you and answer any questions you possess regarding the intent and state of mind requirements under New Jersey law. You are invited to take advantage of a free consultation as an attorney will be happy to assist you. A defense lawyer from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is available 24/7. Contact us online.