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Criminal Law, Immunity and Conviction Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 6th, 2020

Determine whether or not a conviction is feasible when an alleged perpetrator does not have the required mens rea but has engaged in the actus rea. Provide a rationale to support your position

Mens rea refers to the state of mind of a person and whether they are aware that their actions are criminal. Actus rea, on the other hand, describes the physical act (crime) itself. To determine whether a conviction is feasible, one rule stands – an act only makes a person guilty if their mind is also guilty (Hollin, 2013). The law comes in when a criminal offense has been committed. It is up to the court to make a judgment after determining the mens rea of the perpetrator. In some instances, a person may commit a crime, for example, get involved in an accident while driving and kill someone in the process. In another situation, a person may plot to kill someone by knocking them down as he or she walks down the street. These two cases are very different. The former is manslaughter while the latter is murder.

If the perpetrator does not have the required mens rea for the action, it means that there was no direct intent to engage in the actus rea. A conviction is also feasible if the purpose was oblique. In the first instance, the perpetrator may have been aware of the consequences of his or her actions but did not directly desire them. Oblique intent can also be said to be a form of recklessness (Malik, 2014).

For a conviction to be obtained there has to be a direct link between intent and the actus rea. The referred means that a sentence cannot be feasible if the perpetrator does not have the required mens rea. A human brain can understand the consequences of a person’s actions. If one assumes this, but still proceeds with their actions knowingly, then they deserve to be convicted. If they have no ill intentions, then a conviction is not feasible.

Explain the distinction between diplomatic immunity and legislative immunity. Next, support or criticize the premise that diplomatic immunity is vital for Americans abroad

To be able to differentiate between diplomatic immunity and legislative immunity, one has to first understand the concept of immunity. Immunity can be defined as the state of being exempt from specific rules and procedures despite criminal behavior. Diplomatic immunity is extended to envoys who work in foreign countries. For instance, they are exempted from taxes and the rule of law and cannot be arrested in a foreign country.

Legislative immunity, on the other hand, is the exemption that is extended to the members of parliament with regards to prosecution. This immunity is only valid within the period in which they carry out their legislative duties. They are, thus, not liable for any omissions or actions that were done while they were in office. The only way that a legislator can be prosecuted is if the immunity is lifted by the Supreme Court. From the definitions, it is clear that diplomatic immunity is effective for diplomats outside their country whereas legislative immunity is effective for legislators in an office within their state.

Diplomatic immunity is significant in that it protects America from being pressurized through blackmail. Towards this end, therefore, it can be argued that immunity is a symbol of respect for the country. The diplomats are usually expected to conduct themselves in a manner that is acceptable by the law of the host country. It merely shows mutual respect between the countries involved. However, some diplomats have abused this right and committed offenses related to the labor laws of the host country and even drug smuggling with the belief that they (diplomats) are immune (Boister, 2012). It is for this reason that some of these exemptions were tabled during the Geneva Convention.

Argue for or against the theory that the courts should not hold a defendant of questionable competency to the standard sentencing guidelines. Provide a rationale to support your response

A defendant with questionable competency is a person who is mentally immature or has impaired thinking habits that may affect their chain of thought. I believe that the courts should not hold a defendant of questionable competency to the standard sentencing guidelines.

To explore this issue in-depth, one has to consider the question of intent. Most of the defendants with questionable competency, in most instances, do not quite understand their actions. Their reasoning, therefore, cannot be compared to the argument of a defendant that is mentally competent. The law is unambiguous; an actus rea can only attract a feasible conviction if the mind is guilty as well.

Secondly, when it comes to defense, such defendants have a hard time during the trial. Issues such as poor coherence and even memory loss have often affected their ability to testify or be prosecuted in a court of law. In many instances, such defendants are not competent enough to be sentenced. It is common to find that during the trial period, such defendants have proved that they cannot participate in full capacity or understand the process entirely as well as other people do. If such people are put through the standard sentencing guidelines, then it would not only be unfair, but justice would not be served.

Identify the four goals of criminal law, and discuss the manner in which these four goals effectuate the purpose of protecting the public and preventing the conviction of innocent persons

  • Deterrence – Criminal law provides for penalties and punishment for crimes committed. Each country has a different take on the different punishments associated with different crimes. For every evil perpetrated in society, however, some form of punishment is accorded (Miller, 2012). Most of these penalties are usually very harsh. Other people in the general public who might have any ideas of committing such crimes will be consequently discouraged from causing harm to the public. In the absence of the threat of harsh punishment then it would be easier for citizens to ignore the rule of law in their everyday lives.
  • Rehabilitation – This is one of the goals of criminal law that is usually overlooked. The members of the society who have been engaged in illegal activities are given a second chance in life. They are equipped with skills that will make them valuable to the general public. This knowledge helps other members of the public who may incline to commit the crime.
  • Investigation – Through criminal law, many people have found justice (Malik, 2014). There have been many instances where people have been wrongfully accused of certain crimes. When the rule of law is followed to the latter, then innocent citizens find justice and are exonerated. The judgment is obtained through investigation and exhaustive trials in courts.
  • Retribution – When a family suffers loss especially in a cruel manner such as murder, it is common to find that they will want revenge. This is the standard human reaction; to cause pain to those who have caused you pain. Therefore, without criminal law, people would be inclined to take the law into their own hands. In turn, more crime and violence would be observed. However, criminal law provides a remedy for this. They punish people who commit crimes on behalf of society, therefore, ensure that there are peace and order.


Boister, N. (2012). An introduction to transnational criminal law. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Hollin, R. C. (2013). Psychology and crime: An introduction to criminological psychology. New York, NY: Routledge.

Malik S. (2014). P. L Malik’s criminal court handbook. Lucknow, India: Eastern Book Company.

Miller, R. W. (2012). The social history of crime and punishment in America: A-De. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publishing.

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