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Criminal Liability

In this article, you will learn about what criminal liability means and what the types and elements of criminal liability are.

Most states classify crimes into lawful offences (more extreme offences) and misdeeds (less genuine offences). Criminal liability refers to an individual’s responsibility for a crime as well as the discipline that society will force on them. Since crime hurts the community all in all (in addition to the victim or victims), a legal advisor (investigator) prosecutes the criminal to help to keep society safe.An individual might be judged on being responsible for a crime. This is done on the assumption that the individual committed the crime, along with the essential expectation to consider the individual responsible.

Criminal Liability

If you break the law, you could be held legally responsible. Both possible and actual responsibility means that you committed a crime or are suspected of doing it. People who commit crimes are held responsible for them if they are proven guilty in court. When the government thinks you did something illegal, they try to get you to pay for it in court.Some crimes are based on what you did or didn’t do and why you did or didn’t do it (the guilty state of mind, the intention to commit). Prosecutors have to show that not only did you do what you did, but they also have to show that you meant to do it. The term ‘strict liability’ is sometimes used, which means even if you didn’t mean to do something terrible, you can still be held responsible for the crime. Suppose you sold alcohol to someone under 21 and didn’t know. You could still be charged with a crime for that.

Elements of Criminal Liability 

Actus reus and Mens rea are the two principal components that oversee criminal obligation.

  • Actus Reus: The primary reason for a criminal obligation is actus reus. It is a Latin expression that means ‘blameworthy direct’. The objective part of a crime is otherwise called the outer element. It refers to the basic features, as characterised by regulation

Actus reus states: ‘every one of the outside conditions and impacts specified in law and order as characterising what is happening’, as per Glanville Williams in his criminal regulation. Thus, everything except the psychological perspective may be incorporated

The country’s criminal law decides the elements of actus reus, which is why they differ from one country to another. The lawful definition of crime is profoundly significant in determining if actus reus is required.

  • Mens Rea: One more wide reason for a criminal obligation is the idea of mens rea. It’s a Latin expression that means ‘guilty brain’, and it’s the total opposite of actus reus. In simple words, it’s a psychological part of an individual’s aim to perpetrate a crime

Quite possibly, the main component in carrying out a crime is psychological instability. Thus, mens rea may be characterised as the driving variable behind unlawful conduct. It is different depending on the offence. Murder, constrained rape, property robbery, and manslaughter are crimes carried out with motivation behind the culprit.

Types of Criminal Liability

  • Criminal Responsibility for Individuals: A man or a gathering might carry out a crime, or take part in unlawful conduct. When somebody carries out a crime, they are expected to take responsibility
  • Joint Liability versus Bunch Criminal Liability: Individual and gathering criminal obligations are unrelated. When at least two people are occupied with perpetrating a crime, every one of them is responsible. Alongside direct members, backhanded players are additionally caught in bunch liability cases, but the punishment for a crime carried out by a gathering may be something similar or different, relying upon their situation in the crime

Bunch criminal liability envelops most of the arranged or facilitated offences by far. It is canvassed under joint obligation in the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The thought of shared guilt in carrying out crime is exemplified in Sections 34 to 38 of the IPC, 1860.

  • Acts done by a gathering to accomplish a shared objective (Section 34): At the point when various individuals do an illegal act for the sake of a shared purpose, every one of them is answerable
  • The act’s segment 35: ‘A criminal demonstration since it is finished with criminal information or intention’ is the subject of this segment

As per the prerequisites of this segment, assuming different individuals take an interest in an unlawful demonstration, every one of them is responsible for the crime similarly, as though he/she did it single-handedly with that information or aim.


In our society, there are many ills, one of which is criminality. Even though there is no generally perceived meaning of crime, a few activities carried out by an individual or a gathering of people that hurt others or upset the peace and tranquillity of society might be considered violations. An individual who commits a crime is punished as per the law to keep similar demonstrations from happening. Criminal liability refers to an individual’s responsibility for a crime as well as the discipline that society will force on them.Attacking public requests, mishandling or blocking public property, harming the general population, assaulting individuals and attaching their freedom, assaulting people’s property or privileges connected with, etc. are a few examples of crimes.


Frequently asked questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to the UPSC Examination Preparation.

What are the main elements of criminal responsibility?

Ans. Mens rea and actus reus are the main elements of criminal responsibility.

What are the five components that establish a crime?

Ans.The criminal direct, criminal reason, simultaneousness, causation, injury, and related conditions are the parts ...Read full

What do you mean by strict liability offences?

Ans. Strict obligation offences are generally wellbeing and security infringement coordinated at undertakings. Many ...Read full

What are the advantages of criminal law?

Ans. Criminal law secures, serves, limits, and oversees human conduct. Likewise, regulations give punishments and d...Read full