A specific intent crime has to do with a criminal defendant having the specific intent to commit a specific crime. For example, let’s assume that the crime we’re talking about is attempted murder.
In order to be convicted of attempted murder, one of the elements of the crime is that the defendant has to have the specific intent to kill the victim. So, for example, if you take the Reginald Denny case of years ago when there were the LA riots and a truck driver was pulled out of the car and beaten by multiple people, those people were captured because they were caught on camera and they were arrested and charged with attempted murder of that truck driver.
Prosecutor Must Prove Intent To Commit a Crime
They were all found not guilty and the main reason for that was because the prosecutors could not prove they had a specific intent to kill, because they pulled him out, they hit him, they beat him but they stopped their attack They let the person live, so how could you prove that they had the specific intent to kill?
Now, they may have been able to be charged with assault likely to produce great bodily injury or a host of other charges, but not attempted murder is a specific intent crime, and the reason attempted murder is a specific intent crime is because if you get convicted of attempted pre-meditated murder, you’re looking at fifteen to life in prison, so obviously, they’re going to want to make sure that you were trying to kill the person before they hit you with such a severe sentence.
There’s other specific intent crimes and a lot that pop up all the time. But, when you’re evaluating what a specific intent crime is, you’re looking at a person had to have the specific intent to do a certain thing in order to be convicted of the particular crime.
Most of the crimes in criminal defense are general intent crimes, meaning if you do certain things where you had a specific intent for a certain result, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to be held responsible.
For example, if you drink and drive and you hurt somebody severely as part of that drinking and driving, you’re going to be charged with felony DUI. If you hit somebody on the road and seriously injure them and leave the scene, you’re going to be charged with felony hit and run.
It doesn’t matter whether or not your mind was clouded in some way or you didn’t have some sort of genera intent. You’re going to be held responsible for the crime. So, that specific intent is very important because usually most crimes that are specific intent crimes carry serious punishment.
Defenses For Specific Intent Crimes
There are some defenses to specific intent crimes. The obvious example of a defense when it comes to a specific intent crime is, I didn’t have the specific intent to do the certain thing that needed to be done in order to have specific intent.
Another defense, believe it or not, is intoxication. So, let’s say you get really drunk and you end up shooting somebody or shooting at somebody and you’re charged with attempted murder.
You could use the fact that you were very drunk to mitigate that shooting down to assault with a deadly weapon, battery causing great bodily injury or a host of other crimes, but you may not be able to be convicted of attempted murder, because the fact that you were so intoxicated if it could be proved, that could be used to show you didn’t have the ability to form specific intent to kill because you were way too drunk.
There’s all sorts of cases where people are being charged with specific intent crimes in Los Angeles county, the San Fernando Valley and the prosecutors simply cannot prove the case because they can’t show that specific intent.
They don’t have the evidence for it and a lot of times the prosecutors don’t realize they don’t have the evidence because the police are booking people for certain things, the prosecutor ends up charging it and they don’t’ look carefully enough to see that they’re lacking the specific intent element and it’s crucial.
Reviewing Your Case With a Criminal Lawyer
So, if you’ve got a crime where you’re being charged and you know that the police have to prove specific intent in relation to that crime, sit down with somebody like me who’s been doing it twenty-five years.
Let’s flush out all of the facts and actually figure out whether they could prove what they need to prove — whether ever element can be met, because this is one of the key areas in criminal defense, where if they cannot prove the specific intent element of the crime, they can’t prove the crime, you will be found not guilty or they must dismiss that crime or put in a lesser included crime because the specific intent cannot be met.
So, pick up the phone now. Make the call and we’ll get your case taken care of.
Categorised in: Criminal Defense