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Codifying the meaning of 'intention' in the criminal law

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-07-20, 08:30 authored by Ger CoffeyGer Coffey
What constitutes an intention to commit a criminal offence has proven to be a notoriously difficult concept to define.1 The issue as to whether the accused intended the consequences of the prohibited act or omission constituting the criminal offence charged in the indictment is a question of fact for the jury to determine based on the evidence tendered at trial in addition to the trial judge’s charge to the jury. In the absence of a clear statutory definition of intention in the criminal law it is imperative for trial judges to instruct juries in accordance with clear judicial guidelines. However, the jurisprudence of the English and Irish superior courts pertaining to the meaning of intention, and in particular indirect or oblique intention, has generally been regarded as unsatisfactory with the result that trial judges have insufficient guidelines when instructing juries.2 This comment evaluates the jurisprudence of the superior courts on the meaning of intention in the criminal law.3 It suggests that the guidelines formulated by the superior courts hitherto are not definitive and may lead to confusion when trial judges instruct juries on the meaning of intention, thus necessitating statutory reform.

History

Publication

Journal of Criminal Law;73 (5), pp. 394-413

Publisher

Sage Publications

Note

peer-reviewed

Language

English

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