intent

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary

The mental desire to act in a particular way. Many crimes require that in order to be found guilty, the perpetrator must have intended to do what he did. An act may be one of many possible crimes depending on the intent of the perpetrator. For example, if A shoots and wounds B, the offense could be attempted murder (if A intended to kill B), assault with intent to cause great bodily injury (A was intending to merely wound B), a minor misdemeanor (A shot on purpose but could not have known that B was around), or no crime at all (A fired the gun completely by accident). (See also: specific intent)

Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.