The Model Penal Code Elements of a Crime
The Model Penal Code was developed in an effort to take stock of what the various jurisdictions in the United States had adopted as their common law rules for various crimes. In this simplified state, the MPC, as it came to be known, has made life much easier for prosecutors and defense lawyers everywhere primarily by defining in concrete terms what each mental state is.
The first part of any crime is conduct. The defendant must have done something that is seen as being undesirable by society. This can be killing someone or throwing a rock at a home and breaking a window or some other action that society has deemed undesirable. Conduct is the actual action taken by the defendant.
Following that, there can be attendant circumstances. In the old versions of burglary, a person had to break into a home while at night. Breaking into the home was the conduct and “while at night” was an attendant circumstance. So if a person merely were to break into a home at noon, the attendant circumstances would not be met.
If the person has met both the conduct and attendant circumstances of a crime, it is time to look to whether the potential defendant achieved a result prohibited by the crime. Without a result, in result crimes, there is no crime of X. So, as murder is a result crime, without a person actually killing another person, there is no murder.
The Model Penal Code requires that for each of those elements there be the required mental state. This can be laid out as purposefully, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently. If the individual does not have at least the mental state laid out in the statute, he or she did not have the requisite mental state for the crime and again it does not exist.