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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Default Difference Between "Motive" and "Intent"


    I am currently analyzing the supreme court case R. v. Hamilton. One of the questions I am facing is what the difference between "motive" and "intent".

    Here is the head note. It be great if someone could help me out.

    The accused sent “teaser” e‑mails on the Internet to more than 300 people, marketing the sale of “Top Secret” files he himself had purchased off a website. The teaser advertised software that would enable the purchaser to generate “valid” credit card numbers. The accused made at least 20 sales and the files that were sold, although not the teaser, also included instructions on how to make bombs and how to break into a house. A document describing a credit card number generator that was not part of the files was discovered on the accused’s computer. As well, a handwritten list of Visa numbers was seized in his possession. No complaints were received by the bank regarding their improper use. The accused was charged under s. 464 of the Criminal Code with counselling four indictable offences that were not committed, including fraud. The accused testified that he had seen a computer‑generated list of the contents of the files but that he had not read the files. The trial judge accepted the accused’s evidence in this regard and also accepted his evidence that he had not used the credit card numbers he had generated. She acquitted the accused, concluding that the actus reus of the offence had been proven in respect of each of the counts but not the mens rea. The Court of Appeal upheld the acquittal. The Crown appealed to this Court on the issue of mens rea.

    Held (Major, Abella and Charron JJ. dissenting): The appeal should be allowed on the count of counselling fraud.

    Per McLachlin C.J. and Bastarache, Binnie, LeBel, Deschamps and Fish JJ.: The concern in this case is with the imposition of criminal liability on those who counsel others to commit crimes. The actus reus for counselling is the deliberate encouragement or active inducement of the commission of a criminal offence. The mens rea consists of nothing less than an accompanying intent or conscious disregard of the substantial and unjustified risk inherent in the counselling: that is, it must be shown that the accused either intended that the offence counselled be committed, or knowingly counselled the commission of the offence while aware of the unjustified risk that the offence counselled was in fact likely to be committed as a result of the accused’s conduct. Courts cannot contain the inherent dangers of cyberspace crime by expanding or transforming offences, such as counselling, that were conceived to meet a different and unrelated need. [21] [29] [31]

    The trial judge acquitted the accused on the count of counselling fraud because his motivation was mercenary as opposed to malevolent. The trial judge’s conclusion that the accused did not intend to induce the recipients to use those numbers is incompatible with the plain meaning of the “teaser” e‑mail and with her other findings of fact, including her finding that the accused understood that the use of the generated numbers was illegal. Her assertion that “[h]is motivation was monetary” immediately after her reference to these facts demonstrates an error of law as to the mens rea for counselling the commission of a crime, and warrants a new trial. The trial judge confounded “motive” and “intent”. [40] [45]

    Per Major, Abella and Charron JJ. (dissenting): In interpreting a Criminal Code provision, it is important not to overreach the purpose of the criminal sanction at the expense of other important social values. This is particularly so in a case such as this one where the conduct in question consists of communications. The actus reus under s. 464 of the Criminal Code consists of “counsel[ling] another person to commit an indictable offence”. In order for the actus reus to be proven, the words communicated by the accused, viewed objectively, must be seen as actively inducing, procuring or encouraging the commission of an offence. However, it is well established that it is not necessary that the person counselled be in fact persuaded. The mens rea of the offence is largely inferred from the actus reus itself. It is not sufficient that the communication simply raise the possibility of affecting its recipient. At the very least, the counsellor must subjectively intend to persuade the person counselled to commit the offence. Mere recklessness as to the counselled person’s reaction to the communication is insufficient. Except in the most unusual circumstances, the counsellor who intends to persuade the person counselled to commit an offence will intend that the offence be committed. This restricted interpretation of the actus reus and mens rea of the offence of counselling ensures that the scope of the offence remains within the justifiable limits of the criminal law and protects freedom of expression by limiting the potential overbreadth of a criminal sanction whose sole target is speech. While the Internet poses particular risks because of the ease with which mass communications may be disseminated worldwide, the remedy does not lie in an expansive interpretation of the offence of counselling. [66‑67] [72] [76‑77] [81]

    There is no reason to interfere with the trial judge’s conclusion that the accused did not have the necessary mens rea. Her consideration of the accused’s motivation must be examined in the context of the evidence before her, and her reasons must be read as a whole. Here, the Court of Appeal correctly concluded that the trial judge had considered motive as part of her findings of fact, but that her decision on the issue of mens rea was based on other facts relating to the accused’s knowledge. It was on the basis of these other facts that the trial judge found the accused lacked sufficient knowledge of the consequences of his actions to satisfy the mens rea requirement. [84] [86]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default Re: Difference Between "Motive" and "Intent"

    We typically don't help with homework.

    Having said that, maybe a review of "MGM vs. Grokster" would help.

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