Essential Element Of Crime | Concept Of Crime

There are five essential element of crime. Although we don't have any concrete definition of crime , but we can judge an incident or action as crime , if it is constituted with these five essentials .

Essential Element Of Crime
Essential Element Of Crime | Concept Of Crime

As we have already discussed in our previous post of Offense about the concept of crime , so now we are familiar with the term concept of crime and we also know that there is no concrete definition of crime till date .

Now, we will discuss the essential element of crime. There are five elements of crime ::

  • There must be person(s) to commit a crime.

  • Guilty Mind 'or' Mens Rea

  • Actus Reus

  • Injury

  • An object

So, lets start understanding every element in concept of crime one by one.

1. Person(s) : This is the first essential element of crime . Section 11 of Indian penal code ,1860 defines the term 'person' .

Indian Penal Code defines the term 'person' as follows :

"The word 'person' includes any company or association or body of persons , whether incorporated or not.

This element of crime talks about 'person' it states , that in order to call an action a crime , there must be a person to commit or initiate an action that could be later counted as crime if it fulfills all the five essential element of crime.

The above definition is merely an inclusive one and not exhaustive. It is interesting to note that apart from human beings the definition also includes even non-natural (artificial) persons who have no mind or physical entity of their own.

Thus, The Indian Penal Code ,1860, contemplates crimes being committed not only by natural persons but even by those artificial entities who cannot think on their own, but do so through their agents or servants.

2. Mens Rea : This is the second essential element of crime in concept of crime. The general rule is that there can't be a crime without guilty mind . This has been quoted in a latin legal maxin "Actus non-facit reum nisi mens sit rea" - It means that intent and act both must occur to constitute a crime.

The principle of the above mentioned quote was developed because of the proposition -

"Actus me invito factus non est mens actus" - It means an act done by me against my will is not my act. Mens rea has not been defined anywhere in Indian Penal Code or in any statute in India.

The literal meaning of mens rea is guilty mind . It is compulsory to have guilty mind while commencement of any wrongful act in order to constitute a crime.

3. Actus reus : This is the third element . 'Actus Reus' means an act prohibited by law.

[Actus = Act ; Reus = Prohibited] An act is not reus until and unless law prohibits it.

For any act to be constituted as a crime, It must be a prohibited act by law.

4. Injury : This is the forth essential element of crime . The end result of any act prohibited by law must be an injury to another person or society at large . 'Injury' has been defined in Section 44 of Indian Penal Code as follows : "The word 'Injury' denotes any harm whatsoever,illegally caused to any person in body , mind, reputation or property."

5. Object : This is the last essential element of crime to be understood in concept of crime . The resultant injury of the crime causes harm to the person against whom the crime is committed . Here it is the object against whom the crime is committed . The object may be an individual or the society as a whole.