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FindLaw Legal Dictionary

The FindLaw Legal Dictionary -- free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.



intent n

1 : the act or fact of intending: as
a : the design or purpose to commit a wrongful or criminal act called also criminal intent compare knowledge, mens rea, motive, negligence
b : the purpose to commit a tortious act having consequences that the actor desires and believes or knows will occur

constructive intent
: intent that is inferred to exist (as from willfulness or recklessness) in relation to an act

criminal intent
: intent

general intent
: intent to perform an illegal act without the desire for further consequences or a precise result [there was a general intent to assault but not to kill]

specific intent
: intent to perform an illegal act with the knowledge or purpose that particular results will or may ensue [assaulted him with specific intent to kill]

trans·ferred intent
1 : intent attributed to a person who intends to cause another harm when the harm is accidentally inflicted on an unintended victim
2 : a doctrine in tort and criminal law: a wrongdoer who causes harm to a person other than the one intended may nevertheless be held to have intended the harmful result
2 a : intendment see also legislative intent
b : the purpose of a document (as a contract or will)
c : the aim or goal of a person in creating a document or taking an action [the court's attempt to fulfill the donor's ] [the of the contracting parties implied by their language] see also original intent

with intent
: with the intent to commit another sometimes specified crime [entered the apartment with intent to commit theft therein] [a drug dealer charged with possession with intent]

Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

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