West Jordan, UT asked in Criminal Law for Utah

Q: Let me ask that in a better way, do you have to have intent to to commit a crime?

Because I pulled over and talked to my neighbors, and I told them to get the information from truck and they knew where I lived and who I was. I even called the HOA and asked my neighbors if they were ok with me returning the truck and getting my car. And they said it was fine. But I’m told none of it matters, because no matter what they automatically believe my intent was to leave.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Lance E. Bastian
Lance E. Bastian
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Licensed in Utah

A: The answer to your question is that you have to have whatever mental state is required as an element of a particular crime. Some crimes must be committed intentionally or with intent, in which case yes, they would have to prove intent. Some crimes can be committed knowingly, recklessly, with criminal negligence, and some crimes have no mental state requirement. They are referred to as strict liability offenses. Speeding, for example, requires no showing of mental state. If you're operating a car and you're speeding, it doesn't matter if you intended to speed or were negligent as to your speed. You are strictly liable for your speed, regardless of what's going on in your mind. Assuming you're talking about leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, you have some nuance there with respect to moving the vehicle out of the roadway and that kind of thing. You probably need to speak with an attorney where you can give more detail about exactly how things happened.

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