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The Mens Rea of Recklessness

This lesson considers the mens rea of recklessness as defined in the Model Penal Code. After some material on the idea of a minimum level of culpability as a condition of punishment at common law, the lesson examines how recklessness operates as that minimum level in the Code. The lesson attempts to distinguish those mental states associated with greater and lesser culpability from that of "conscious disregard." It also examines the nature of the risk at issue in recklessness, drawing particular attention to the Code terms "substantial" and "unjustifiable," and to the simultaneously subjective and objective aspects of the Code's definition of that risk.

Lesson Completion Time

20 minutes
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Lesson Authors

Lesson ID

CRIM05