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The doctrines of actus reus [and] mens rea . . . have historically provided the tools for a constantly shifting adjustment of the tension between the evolving aims of the criminal law and changing religious, moral, philosophical, and medical views of the nature of man. This process of adjustment has always been thought to be the province of the States. Powell v. Texas, 392 U.S. 514, 536, 20 L. Ed. 2d 1254, 88 S. Ct. 2145 (1968). 

Latin. In criminal law, this is the guilty act or deed of which the object of the act defines or constitutes the crime. The physical act required of every crime. Conduct that the law seeks to prevent. There can be criminal conduct without an actus reus and that area of law is called vicarious liability. Generally, proof of a crime requires both an actus reus and a mens rea along with a social harm. The type of act required by the defendant is one that is voluntary; this excludes reflexive, unconscious, convulsive, or otherwise involuntary acts. The actus reus is merely one of the ingredients of crime; and this ingredient may be present without any crime at all. ...

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