A friend of mine contacted me to seek my opinion on whether criminal prosecutions could be instigated against her son. The crux of it was, “How do you define a criminal act?”


“H and a couple of his dozy mates have laid on top of their friend’s roof of his car and his parents are saying it’s going to cost thousands to fix. My solicitor reckons they haven’t got a leg to stand on as it wasn’t done with criminal intent so the Police won’t be interested.

Mother of boy is saying Citizens Advice say it is criminal damage and can go to the Police. The boy has no regard for the car and H says a lot of the damage he’s done but obviously they are trying to include all the damage.”



The solicitor in this case was bang on the money. There has to be an intention behind the act for criminality to be proved.

There are 2 parts to a criminal act;

  • The intention
  • The act itself

One cannot succeed without the other. This is the most basic point of law you learn, which took me back a few years when I studied A Level in Law.

The Mens Rea is the criminal intent to commit the offence, and the Actus Rea is the actual act of committing it. Mens Rea is a Latin legal term that translates as ‘guilty mind’ or ‘criminal intent’. To commit a crime, you need Mens Rea (the intent to commit a crime) and Actus Reus (the actual doing of a crime).


The Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) two part test decides if a case goes to Court. They ask themselves;

  • Is it in the public interest to proceed with the prosecution?
  • On the balance of probabilities (minimum 51%), will this succeed?


In this case, there was no intent to commit a crime. Therefore it is not in the public interest to prosecute the individuals and on the balance of probabilities this would not succeed in Court.

Stupidity is not a crime and if it was, I think the majority of the population would be behind bars.

My friend was relieved to hear my opinion, as you can imagine, and it’s worth bearing this in mind if you ever find yourself in a tight spot.

I have covered eBay fraud, Facebook fraud, Amazon fraud and PayPal fraud to shine a spotlight on what to do and your consumer rights on real-life criminal acts.

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