Elements of Crime

Shreya Yalamanchili

Awareness of Duty

Awareness of duty is defined as knowing what you are and are not supposed to do. When laws are already common knowledge, it is a person's duty to know and abide by them. In civil cases, awareness of duty must be used to find the liable party. For example, if a person is charged for driving on the wrong side of the road, they can not say they are innocent because "wrong way" signs are clearly posted.

Violation of Duty

Violation of duty is defined as actually breaking a law. It is very clear cut because of written laws and statutes. This means that if you break a written law, there is no need to establish that this element existed until you go to trial. In many civil cases, violation of duty is an important aspect of the case. For example, if a caretaker was not caring for their patient, they would have violated their duty, which was to take care of their patient.

Criminal Intent

Criminal intent is defined as the person's state of mind when they are committing a crime. In other words, "did they really mean to commit the crime?" This element mainly applies to civil cases. Many times, a person who didn't mean to break the law is still charged, but this element can still be used to determine innocence or guilt. For example a person who didn't mean to rob a bank could still be charged with theft.