Legal-Elements Test Law and Legal Definition

Legal-elements test refers to a method that determines whether one crime is a lesser included offense in relation to another crime. This test is relevant in determining if an uncharged crime is a lesser included offense of that charged. It also requires the lesser offense to be composed solely of some but not all of the elements of the greater offenses. Thus, the lesser offense is necessarily included in the greater offense if the greater offense cannot be committed without also committing the lesser.

Conversely, if the lesser offense contains an element that is not part of the greater offense, the lesser cannot be included in the greater. The factual test requires the court to determine whether there is a sufficient factual basis in the record for submitting the included offense. However, the legal element test requires the lesser offense to be composed solely of some but not all of the elements of the greater offenses. Thus, the lesser offense is necessarily included in the greater offense if the greater offense cannot be committed without also committing the lesser.[State v. Adcock, 426 N.W.2d 639, 640 (Iowa Ct. App. 1988)].