Criminal Intent Law and Legal Definition

Criminal intent means the intent to do something wrong or forbidden by law.

Intent refers to the state of mind accompanying an act especially a forbidden act. It is the outline of the mental pattern which is necessary to do the crime. At times criminal intent is used in the sense of mens rea-the mental element requisite for guilt of the offense charged.

Example of a case law on criminal intent.

Where a person intends to kill or injure someone, but in the course of attempting to commit the crime accidentally injures or kills a third party, the defendant's criminal intent will be transferred to the third party. Under this doctrine called the Felony murder doctrine, the felonious intent involved by underlying felony may be transferred to supply intent to kill necessary to characterize the homicide as murder.[State v. Julius, 185 W. Va. 422, 431 (W. Va. 1991)]