Concurrence


Fundamentals of Criminal Law

Adam J. McKee, Ph.D.

Jack Brown, Ph.D.


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The idea of concurrence (a.k.a. contemporaneity and simultaneity) is rarely considered in criminal cases. This is not because the idea is unimportant, but because its presence is usually obvious. Concurrence means that the guilty act (actus reus) must be triggered by the guilty mind (mens rea). Brody, Acker, and Logan provide an excellent example of a situation when concurrence comes into play:

“A man enters a mountain cabin during a blizzard without the owner’s permission to take refuge from the storm. After entering, he sees valuables and decides to take them with him when the weather calms. He is not guilty of burglary if that offense is defined as “breaking and entering a dwelling with the intention to commit a felony therein.” This is so because at the time of his entry into the cabin A had no intention of committing felonious larceny or another felony; he sought only to escape the blizzard. His intention to steal, formed after his entry, did not concur with his breaking and entering the cabin.”

Brody, D.C., Acker, J. R., & Logan, W. A. (2001). Criminal Law. Gaithersburg, Maryland: Aspen (p. 213).

The Arkansas Code is a good example of a situation where the general part of the penal code doesn’t clearly specify concurrence as an element of offenses, but where it is implied within other areas of the law.  While there is no section of the AR code dealing directly with concurrence, we can infer it from the text of §5-2-204(b): “A person does not commit an offense unless he acts with a culpable mental state with respect to each element of the offense that requires a culpable mental state.” That is, action must be coupled with intent. “…There must be a union or joint operation of act and intention or criminal negligence.”

Modification History

File Created:  07/12/2018

Last Modified:  07/12/2018

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This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.

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