What are the elements of a crime? Simply put, the elements of a crime are the components that make up a crime. A prosecuting attorney must prove that the elements or components of a crime took place, beyond a reasonable doubt, for a defendant to be convicted of a crime. There are four elements to the crime of robbery, for example. This means the prosecution must prove the defendant took property belonging to someone else; he or she carried those belongings away elsewhere; that this was done through the use of force or fear; and with the intent to deprive the owner from using his or her property, permanently.

The Elements Must Exist for a Conviction
Each crime has its own set of components that must be proven by the prosecution in order to convict an individual of that crime. It is the duty of a prosecuting attorney to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the elements of the crime took place. Each element of the crime must be established to show the defendant is guilty of the crime at hand. If, however, the prosecution is unable to prove each component of the crime, then a jury must acquit. A skilled criminal defense attorney will work on behalf of his or her client to prove all the necessary elements did not take place, thus a conviction should not result. To better understand the elements of a crime, let’s consider the crime of drug possession, for example. The law could require that the defendant of the crime had to have physical or constructive possession of a drug or drugs; the amount of drugs in possession had to be a usable amount and in a usable form; and the defendant must have known, while the controlled substance was in his or her possession, that the substance is considered an illegal drug. If the prosecuting attorney proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant had a usable amount of marijuana in his coat pocket but can’t prove that the defendant knew it was, in fact, an illegal substance then that defendant should not be found guilty of the crime. This is because all of the established elements of the crime were not proven.

Establishing Reasonable Doubt
If you are facing a possible criminal conviction, it is crucial to get in touch with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can fight for your rights in court. One way a defense lawyer can defend his or her client is by establishing reasonable doubt that all the elements of the crime needed for a conviction were met. The prosecutor must convince the jury or a judge of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This requires the jury or judge to have a certainty that the defendant met all the elements of the crime at hand, thus is guilty of that crime. Defense attorneys often impress upon a jury, especially, that the members can’t “think” the defendant met all the elements of the crime. Thinking and knowing are different.