General Intent Crimes: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 Definition of General Intent
  • 1:13 Types of Crimes
  • 2:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

A general intent crime is a crime that is committed with intent, but the results that happened were not proved to be intentional. This lesson discusses the varieties of general intent crimes.

Definition of General Intent

Let's say that you are hanging out with a group of friends. You're laughing and teasing each other. However, one of your friends hits on a sore spot and makes fun of your mom. Your response is to punch your friend in the face.

This is considered battery and a general intent crime. You meant to hurt your friend, but your intention was not to break his nose, which you also did. If you had intended all along to break your friend's nose, this would be aggravated battery and a specific intent crime.

Essentially, general intent crimes occur when a person intends to commit a certain crime, but the end result of the crime was not the person's intention. Specific intent is where you intended to commit the crime and intended for the result of the crime as well. An example of specific intent would be premeditated murder. Premeditated means there was a plan for the result of death, which makes this specific intent. Premeditation usually is involved with specific intent.

People who are also accused and convicted of general intent crimes, may not know that they were doing anything against the law at the time. They may have broken a law by accident, but still broke the law: this would be a general intent crime.

Types of Crimes

Let's look at different crimes that can be considered general intent. You might be surprised to find out how many severe crimes are considered general intent:

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