Concurrence and Burden of Proof

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Criminal liability is dependent on the concurrence of a criminal mental state with the commission of a criminal act; thus, the attempt to commit a criminal act may be sufficient. A substantial step made in furtherance of the commission of an offense must be taken, rather than the mere planning or preparation to commit a criminal offense. Therefore, it can be a fine line as to whether one incident may be the subject of criminal liability while the other is not. Concurrence requires that a criminal act occur at the same time the actor possessed the required criminal mental state. To convict a defendant of a given crime, prosecutors must prove to a judge or jury that all the statutory elements of a crime are present. The burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. If even one statutory element of an offense cannot be established beyond a reasonable doubt, it is concluded that criminal liability will not have been demonstrated, and the defendant will be found not guilty.

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For this discussion, you will consider the concept of burden of proof in the context of concurrence by responding to the following in your main post:

  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of our adversarial system regarding the burden of proof falling on the government to prove the concurrence of the criminal act with a criminal mind.
  • Evaluate whether a fact-finder can look into the mind of an accused to determine the way that person acted at the time of committing the crime.
  • Analyze whether the elements of concurrence are met and whether a man can be prosecuted for his wife’s death in the following situation: the man has been thinking about killing his wife and thoughtfully plans the details of how he is going to carry out the crime, and then his wife is killed in a car accident that he had nothing to do with.

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