Act, Intention and Motive

Act, Intention and Motive

Using the term act:

No word is more often employed by judges and writers on the subject of law, with little regard for any potential ambiguity. There is a lot of legal literature out there expressions like “”An act of homicide,” “An act of terrorism,” “An act of terrorism,” “An act of terrorism,” “An act of trespassing, “and etc.

In a characteristically terse passage, Mr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes indicates his agreement with this viewpoint:

“A voluntary muscle contraction, and nothing else, is always a part of an act. It does not include the chain of physical sequences that it initiates or directs to the plaintiff’s detriment, and in most cases, a long train of such sequences intervenes.”

“The term act has an ambiguous meaning, as it can be used in a variety of ways with varying degrees of generality. When we say that an act is one of the essential conditions of liability, we use the term in the broadest sense possible, meaning any event that is subject to the control of the human will.”

Some writers confine the term act to the part of the act that we have identified as its genesis. According to this viewpoint, the only legitimate acts are bodily movements. ‘An act is always a voluntary muscular contraction and nothing else,’ it has been said.

“It is possible to argue that, while an act must be taken to contain some of its repercussions, it does not contain all of them, only those that are direct or immediate.” Any distinction between direct and indirect, proximate and distant repercussions, on the other hand, is merely a matter of degree, and cannot be used as the basis for any logical definition.

“An attempt can be defined as an action taken in preparation for another action.”

In order to assess the actor’s criminal guilt, we must first identify his mental state in relation to these other factors. The most pressing issue in criminal law in this regard is whether the actor intended for particular consequences to follow from his or her act or acts.

Intention is defined as:

In criminal law, intention is defined as a deliberate goal that drives a person to conduct a crime that is prohibited by law or that has the potential to result in an unlawful end. The suspect’s intention is expressed by the use of specific measures that resulted in the commission of a crime.

“Intention, then,” Mr. Justice Markby explains, “is the state of mind in which the doer of an act anticipates and seeks a consequence of the act.” The doer of an act, on the other hand, may allude to a result while not desiring it: thus not intending it.

In more technical terms, intention refers to a person’s will or plan. When a person performs an activity intentionally, it indicates that he or she is willing or intending to do so, as opposed to an accident or mistake in which he or she is fully aware of the repercussions. That is why the fundamental factor in determining responsibility is purpose.

Regardless of whether the act is done with good or evil intentions. If a person does something on intent and intentionally that is against the law, he or she will be held criminally liable.

Motive is defined as:

A person’s purpose is driven by their motive, which is the fundamental goal behind the commission of an act. In other words, the incentive, or cause, is what motivates the accused to commit a crime.

Because it only reveals the accused reasons for acting or refraining from behaving in a specific manner, the motive behind a criminal offence is seen as unimportant in determining an individual’s guilt. It is, nonetheless, necessary for the police investigation and other stages of the case.

What is the difference between intention and motivation?

The primary factor for making a person accountable for a crime is intention, which is sometimes contrasted with motive. Though we often use the terms interchangeably, they are not the same in legal terms. While intention refers to the reason for doing something, motive refers to the reason for doing so.

The major distinction between intention and motive is that intention refers to the accused’s mental state at the time of the crime, i.e. what is going on in his mind, whereas motive refers to the motivation, i.e. what pushes a person to do or stop from doing something.

Intention vs. Motive: What’s the Key Difference?

In terms of the distinction between intention and motive, the following points are important:

  • The term “intention” is defined in criminal law as “the deliberate cause and known effort to act in a certain manner that is not permitted by law.” The motive, on the other hand, is described as the implicit cause that prompts a person to do or not do something.
  • The use of specific means and the circumstances that led to the criminal offence can be used to determine a person’s purpose. The motivation, on the other hand, is the reason that motivates a person to behave or refrain from behaving in a certain way.
  • While the intention is the crime’s openly stated goal, the motive is the crime’s concealed or implicit goal.
  • When a person’s purpose is a factor in determining criminal responsibility, it must be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt. The motive, on the other hand, isn’t the most important factor in determining guilt, thus it doesn’t have to be demonstrated.

While intent assesses whether the accused did the crime on purpose or by accident, motive provides an explanation for why the accused committed the crime. Simply put, motive drives intention; so, the latter emerges from the former.

In any criminal case, the defendant’s purpose is crucial because it is the only way to prove guilt or innocence. On the other hand, motive has no bearing on whether a person is guilty or innocent.

Author: Ankita Sharma,
Sharda University

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