concurrence | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Criminal Law

Concurrence is an element of crimes requiring that the criminal act (actus reus) be a product of the criminal intent (mens rea).

In criminal law, concurrence is an essential element of many crimes. It requires that the criminal act, or actus reus, must be accompanied by the criminal intent, or mens rea, at the same time. The principle of concurrence is crucial in determining whether or not a crime has been committed and is a fundamental aspect of the criminal justice system.

Criminal law recognizes a wide range of offenses that require both an actus reus and mens rea. Actus reus is the physical act of committing a crime, while mens rea refers to the mental intent of the individual who committed the act. Criminal intent may include purposeful, knowing, reckless, or negligent actions. An individual cannot be found guilty of a crime if they did not commit the actus reus or lack the requisite mens rea.

Concurrence, then, refers to the requirement that the mens rea and actus reus must occur at the same time. This means that the criminal intent must be present when the act is committed, and the act must be the cause of the harm. In other words, the defendant must have intended to commit the act that caused the harm in order to be found guilty of a crime.

For example, consider a scenario where an individual throws a rock at a car intending to scare the driver but instead hits a pedestrian. In this case, both the actus reus and the mens rea are present. The defendant intended to throw the rock and cause harm, and the act of throwing the rock caused harm to the pedestrian. Therefore, the defendant can be charged with a crime that requires the concurrence of actus reus and mens rea.

Concurrence plays an essential role in determining whether or not a crime has been committed, and if so, what degree of culpability should be assigned to the defendant. Different crimes have different levels of intent and corresponding punishments. Crimes that require a higher level of mens rea, such as intentional murder, carry more severe penalties than those that require a lower level of mens rea, such as involuntary manslaughter.

The concept of concurrence can also be used to establish whether or not multiple defendants are equally culpable for a crime. For example, in a scenario where two individuals plan to rob a store, and one acts as the lookout while the other commits the robbery, both defendants may be found guilty of the same crime. This is because they both had the same intent, and their actions were necessary for the commission of the crime.

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Last Modified:  07/07/2021

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