When it comes to criminal charges, intent is often a central factor in determining the outcome of a case. Intent is defined as a person’s state of mind when committing a criminal act. In other words, it is the level of knowledge and understanding a person had when they committed a crime. In this blog, we will define the three main types of intent and cover how they affect different criminal cases.

Types of Criminal Intent

To determine how intent factors into different cases, we first must understand the different types. There are three main types of criminal intent: general, specific, and constructive. The type of intent determines the level of responsibility a person has for the crime they committed.

  1. General Intent: This is the most basic type of intent. It requires that the defendant intended to commit the act, regardless of the outcome. It is often referred to as the “guilty mind.” Examples of crimes with general intent include battery, robbery, and burglary.
  1. Specific Intent: This requires that the defendant had a specific goal in mind when they committed the crime. It is usually more difficult to prove than general intent. Examples of specific intent crimes include murder, fraud, and larceny.
  1. Constructive Intent: The third type of intent can come secondarily with a general intent crime. It is proven when an unintentional crime occurs as a result of an act of general intent. One example of a crime with constructive intent is killing someone as a drunk driver.

How Intent Affects Different Criminal Cases

Intent plays an important role in determining the outcome of criminal charges. Depending on the severity of the crime, intent can be a deciding factor in whether or not a person is convicted. It is important to understand the charges and the circumstances of the case before a judge or jury can decide on the defendant’s intent. If the intent is malicious or intentional, then harsher penalties may be imposed. On the other hand, if the intent was not malicious or intentional, then less severe consequences may be handed down.


In some cases, such as murder, intent is a fundamental factor for determining guilt. If a person kills someone with the intention of doing so, they are more likely to be convicted of murder than if they were acting in self-defense or under duress.


In other cases, such as theft or fraud, intent is not always as significant. In these cases, the severity of the criminal act depends on the amount of money or property taken, as well as the level of knowledge of the accused. If a person is found to have no knowledge of their actions or had no intent to do wrong, then the charges may be reduced or dismissed.

Juvenile Cases

Intent also matters for criminal charges when the accused is a juvenile. In these cases, the court may consider the defendant’s age and level of understanding of the crime. If the underage defendant was unaware that their actions were wrong or had no intention to harm another, they may be charged with a lesser crime or be given a lesser sentence.

Trust Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer With Your Case

If you are facing any type of criminal charges, Grabb & Durando can help. Our Tucson criminal lawyers are well-versed in how intent affects different cases and are both dedicated to and passionate about advocating for our clients. We understand that criminal charges can potentially lead to life-altering consequences, and we will fight for the best possible outcome for your case.

Contact the Grabb & Durando office today for a free consultation.

Hire an Experienced Attorney

Having a lawyer on your side during the post-arrest process, especially for the initial appearance and arraignment, is crucial. At Grabb & Durando, we are available 24/7 to assist you if you are being arrested.
Contact our law firm today for a free initial consultation after an arrest.