What is 'intention' in the criminal law?

  • Google+ icon
  • LinkedIn icon
  • 1365 views

Where a criminal offence requires the defendant to have an intention to achieve a result, there are 2 different tests of intention:

(1) Direct Intention, or

(2) Oblique Intention

Direct Intention

This is the ordinary mean of intention, as used in everyday language. For example, the defendant ('D') intends a result if he acts with the purpose of bringing it about. So, if D is trying to kill V and behaves as he does in order to kill V, there is clearly (direct) intention here. 

In an exam context, always look at direct intention first - oblique intent is rarely required. Consider oblique intent if there's no direct intention.

Oblique Intent

This is where the result was not sought by D but the result is so closely bound with D's actiosn that D is said to have intended the result. 

The definition: If the result (e.g. the victim's death) was a virtual certainty of D's actions and D had foreseen that the result was virtually certain to occur, the jury can find oblique intention. 

William A. A Level Law tutor, GCSE Law tutor, A Level Economics tutor...

About the author

is an online A Level Law tutor with MyTutor studying at Cambridge alumni University

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist.

95% of our customers rate us

Browse tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok