Culpable Mental State Law and Legal Definition

Culpable Mental State refers to the state of mind of an individual while committing a crime. Generally, a crime requires that a guilty act or omission (the actus reus) be committed with the required degree of guilty mind. Generally, certain acts are crimes only if done with a particular state of mind, and that a certain sort of criminal act is more or less serious depending on the perpetrator's state of mind at the time. If we consider the killing of one person by another person, such conduct may be 1) no crime if done in self-defense, 2) a serious crime if done negligently and 3) the most serious sort of crime if done purposefully (murder). It would be culpable (blameworthy) mental state if done with negligence, recklessness, knowledge and purpose. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that, the accused did so with the state of mind required for the commission of that particular crime in order to convict the accused. A very few acts that amounts to strict liability offenses are criminal, however they are done. The term, Culpable Mental State is synonymous with mens rea (guilty mind).