The Mens Rea of Attempts
This lesson is one of several addressing the offense of criminal attempt as set forth in the Model Penal Code. In this lesson, students consider broad concepts relating to the law of attempts, such as what mental state, if any, should be required for punishing an incomplete offense (with reference to theories of punishment) and how certain crimes not so labeled are actually particular kinds of attempt offenses. It then examines the mens rea for an attempted offense, highlighting the distinction between knowledge and purpose, and further distinguishing purpose as to conduct from purpose as to result.
On completion of the lesson, students will be able to:
1. State the Model Penal Code’s definition of criminal attempt.
2. Explain the Model Penal Code’s affirmative defense of renunciation of criminal purpose.
3. Discuss the law of attempts.
4. Explain how the punishment of an attempt should compare to that for a completed offense.
5. Analyze the mens rea for an attempted offense, including the distinction between knowledge and purpose.