corpus delicti | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Law

Corpus delicti is a legal term that refers to the body or substance of a crime.

In criminal law, the corpus delicti of a crime is the elements or facts that must be proven in order to establish that a crime has been committed. These elements vary depending on the specific crime in question but may include things like the fact that a victim suffered harm or loss or that the defendant intended to commit a crime.

The principle of corpus delicti is based on the idea that a crime cannot be proven to have occurred unless certain elements or facts are established. In order to prove the corpus delicti of a crime, it is generally necessary to present evidence that shows that the elements of the crime have been met.

The principle of corpus delicti is an important aspect of criminal law and is intended to protect defendants from being convicted on the basis of false or unproven allegations. It requires the prosecution to present evidence that establishes the existence of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Last Modified: 01/08/2023


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