Monday, November 28, 2011

MBE Fast Fact: Specific vs General Intent Crimes

A key distinction you should make when studying Criminal Law is the distinction between specific intent crimes, and general intent crimes. Two areas in which this distinction is tested is in regards to voluntary intoxication and in regard to mistake of fact. Voluntary intoxication is a defense to specific intent crimes, but not a defense to general intent crimes. In addition, mistake of fact, regardless as to whether the mistake is reasonable, is a defense to specific intent crimes, but for mistake of fact to be a defense to general intent crimes, the mistake has to have been reasonable. That said, the crimes that fall within the category of specific intent crimes are as follows: solicitation; attempt; conspiracy; first degree premeditated murder; assault (attempted battery); larceny; robbery; burglary; forgery; false pretenses; and embezzlement. The general intent crimes are: battery; rape; kidnapping; and false imprisonment. It should be noted that there are two additional categories of crimes: malice crimes, and strict liability crimes. The malice crimes are common law murder, and arson. The strict liability crimes are statutory rape, selling liquor to minors, and bigamy.


  1. What about Manslaughter? Second degree/depraved heart murder?

  2. These are general intent crimes. An easy way to remember this is that these acts do not require intent to carry out the crime (for example with depraved heart murder it's enough that you act with a reckless indifference to the lives of others).