elements (of a crime)

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Elements of a crime are the component parts of a crime. The prosecution must prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt to establish the criminal liability. For example, “burglary” is defined as the act of (1) breaking; (2) and entering; (3) into the abode of another; (4) at night; (5) with the intent to commit a felony therein. Each of those five parts is an element of the crime of burglary which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to establish that the defendant committed burglary.  

Cases such as Wisconsin v. Rodriguez explain that “elements of a crime” are those constituent parts of a crime which must be proven by the prosecution to sustain conviction.

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]