Forms of guilt - comments from a Federal Judge / MIP Law Group

MIP Legal Encyclopedia online - » Criminal cases - comments by a Federal Judge / MIP Law Group » General provisions of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation - comments by a Federal Judge / MIP Law Group » Forms of guilt - comments by a Federal Judge / MIP Law Group

Sign up for a consultation with the head of the criminal department. Professional explanations. Unlimited consultation time

Forms of guilt - free answers from lawyers online

What is guilt in criminal law?

Guilt reflects a person’s real attitude to crime, laws and social requirements that are presented to the criminal himself.

Mental attitude includes:

  • Consciousness, that is, the ability to understand the onset of negative consequences of his criminal act.
  • Will – directly related to the commission of a crime.

Although the law no longer has the concept of degree of guilt, in judicial practice it is used to assess how much the offender repents of what he has done.

The subjective side of the crime

The subjective side of a crime is the mental activity of a person directly related to the commission of a crime. It forms the psychological content of the crime, therefore it is its internal (in relation to the objective) side. The subjective side of a crime characterizes the processes occurring in the psyche of the perpetrator and cannot be directly perceived by the human senses. It is known only through analysis and assessment of the offender’s behavior and the circumstances of the crime. The content of the subjective side of the crime is revealed using such legal features as:

  • guilt;
  • motive;
  • target.

Guilt as a certain form of a person’s mental attitude to the socially dangerous act he commits constitutes the core of the subjective side of the crime, although it does not completely exhaust its content. Guilt is a mandatory sign of any crime.

The motive of a crime is the impulse that guided the guilty person when committing a socially dangerous act, and the goal is the final result that he sought to achieve. These signs of the subjective side of the crime are optional.

The subjective side of the crime has important legal significance, arising from the meaning of the crime:

  1. as an integral part of the basis of criminal liability, it distinguishes criminal behavior from non-criminal behavior. Thus, it is not a crime to cause socially dangerous consequences without guilt, carelessly commit an act punishable only if there is intent (Article 115 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), as well as an act provided for by a norm of criminal law, but committed without the purpose specified in this norm (Article 158- 162 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) or for reasons other than those specified in the law (Articles 153-155 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation);
  2. The subjective side of the crime makes it possible to distinguish elements of a crime that are similar in objective characteristics from each other. Thus, the crimes provided for in Art. 105 and 109, differ only in the form of guilt; unauthorized abandonment of a unit or place of service by a military personnel (Article 337 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) differs from desertion (Article 338 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) only in terms of the content of the goal;
  3. the type and direction of intent, the type of negligence, the nature of motives and goals largely determine the degree of public danger of both the crime and the person who committed it, and therefore the nature of responsibility and the amount of punishment, taking into account the requirements set out in Art. 61, 63 and 64 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

Forms of guilt

To find a defendant guilty, it is important not only to prove that he committed a crime, but also to clarify the specific form of guilt. It influences the choice of punishment.

In particular, for the same crime, completely different punishments can be imposed, because the crime can be committed:

  • Unintentionally.
  • Deliberately.
  • By negligence.

Based on this, in criminal law there are two forms of guilt:

  • Intent (direct and indirect).
  • Carelessness (due to thoughtlessness or negligence).

It is not uncommon for both forms to be mixed in a particular crime.

Intention and its types

In 90% of judicial practice, cases of intentional commission of crimes are considered.

Intention is present when the accused foresaw the consequences of his actions.

There are two types of intent:

  • Straight. In this case, the purpose and expected consequences of criminal actions coincide. Accordingly, the crime itself is committed to achieve this result.
  • Indirect. The consequences that arose as a result of the offense were not planned by the offender and arose as a concomitant of his goal.

These two types significantly influence the qualification of the offense and can change the types of punishment.

Have a question for a lawyer? Ask now, call and get a free consultation from leading lawyers in your city. We will answer your questions quickly and try to help with your specific case.

Telephone in Moscow and the Moscow region: +7

Phone in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region: +7

Free hotline throughout Russia: 8 (800) 301-39-20

Signs of intent

The main signs of intentional commission of a crime are:

  • Awareness of the consequences. The criminal clearly understands what results his actions will lead to.
  • Goal setting. Achieving these results is his goal.

In general, it can be noted that the main characteristic feature is the desire for the corresponding consequences of illegal actions to occur.


In judicial practice, it is intent as a form of guilt that accounts for 90% of all criminal cases.

Intentional guilt requires that the defendant carefully foresaw the outcome of his actions.

Intention is divided into the following two groups:

  1. Straight . In this case, the person committed an unlawful act to achieve a specific expected result. For example, a jealous husband, having learned about his wife’s infidelities, decided to take revenge on her by killing her. Thus, his actions and expected goal are identical - the murder of his wife.
  2. Indirect . The offender did not want to achieve such results that appeared as a side effect and accompanying the main goal.

Carelessness as a form of guilt

This form of guilt suggests that the person did not want the negative consequences of his action to occur, but was too careless about his own actions.

One common example of this type of guilt is driving a car while intoxicated, causing the death of passengers.

Do not confuse negligence and indirect intent. According to Russian legislation, committing a crime through negligence is not intentional. At the same time, by his actions a person can cause even more damage than when committing some intentional crimes.

There are two types of negligence:

  • Frivolity.
  • Criminal negligence.

They differ in their ability to foresee the outcome of their actions. In the case of frivolous actions, this possibility exists. Unlike indirect intent, understanding the possible consequences, with frivolous behavior a person hopes to avoid them.

Negligence is characterized by the fact that a person did not foresee the consequences of actions. This also includes inaction that led to consequences for which the law provides for punishment.

Criminal negligence is the mildest form of guilt.

Based on all that has been said, it becomes clear that more important than the consequences themselves in determining the form of guilt is a person’s attitude to the actions performed. Thus, careless installation of wiring by an electrician can lead to the death of a person, as well as intentional murder.

What are the types of guilt?

The concept of guilt and its types have been studied in detail in existential psychology . American psychiatrist I.D. Jarlom proposed the following classification depending on the scale of the consequences:

  1. Neurotic guilt. Arises as a consequence of bad thoughts or minor offenses (for example, not keeping promises). The person experiences mild moral discomfort, which quickly passes.
  2. Genuine guilt. The individual is faced with deep feelings about the crime that was actually committed. This type of guilt is close to repentance.
  3. Existential guilt. A person feels guilty for living his life incorrectly, not realizing his abilities, and not achieving his goals. This phenomenon often manifests itself as a “midlife crisis.”

Modern psychologists distinguish two types of guilt: real and false.

Real helps a person rethink his behavior, understand the reasons for internal dissatisfaction, correct mistakes, and improve interpersonal relationships. The absence of real guilt is a sign of infantilism, unhealthy selfishness and other human vices.

False guilt is an irrational reaction that was formed as a result of improper upbringing of a child or unsuccessful life experiences. For example, often a person suffers from remorse for the following imaginary reasons:

  1. due to being happy;
  2. due to the lack of opportunity to help loved ones;
  3. because someone’s life is worse;
  4. due to the fact that he rested all day, but could have done useful things.

It is necessary to get rid of false guilt. It is important to realize the real reason why negative thoughts arise in your head and let go of the situation.

Otherwise, the false feeling will begin to “corrode” the personality, causing psychosomatic illnesses, difficulties at work, in finances and in the family.

Distinguishing guilt by degree of foresight

If a person could not foresee the occurrence of negative consequences of his own actions or inaction, then his actions cannot be criminally punishable. It is precisely such actions that constitute innocent harm.

As an example, we can cite a situation where poison was added to food to bait insects, and one of the relatives, not knowing about it, ate this product.

This type of action differs from criminal negligence precisely in the inability to foresee the consequences.

Innocent harm

Innocent harm is understood as a situation where a person commits an act (or fails to act) in a situation that excludes the occurrence of a public danger.

Innocent harm is considered to be a case when a citizen who committed a certain action could not foresee the negative social consequences.

It is noteworthy that the Criminal Code does not provide for penalties for innocent causing of harm, therefore the correct qualification of the form of guilt helps to distinguish intentional causing of harm from innocent.

An example of innocent harm: a wife, wanting to destroy cockroaches in the apartment, added a special poison to a pan of food.

After she fell asleep, her hungry husband came home and was in a hurry to eat from the pot with poison. As a result of this, he died suddenly.

Of course, the wife in no way expected, and could not have foreseen, the occurrence of such consequences. Therefore, her actions do not entail criminal liability and are classified as innocent causing harm.

Innocent harm should also be distinguished from criminal negligence, since such a person not only did not foresee the implementation of negative consequences, but also could not foresee them due to the given circumstances.

( 1 rating, average 5 out of 5 )
Did you like the article? Share with friends:
For any suggestions regarding the site: [email protected]
Для любых предложений по сайту: [email protected]