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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are typically said to be two parts, or elements, to a crime.  Both of the elements must be present in order for a person to have committed a crime.  The elements are the act and the intent.

In order to have committed a crime, a person must have actually done something.  A person cannot commit a crime simply by thinking about it.  Wanting very badly to steal something is not a crime.

However, the act itself is not enough.  There must be intent (unless something is a "strict liability" offense like selling alcohol to a minor).  If, for example, you take someone else's bicycle from a rack because it is identical to yours and you have mistaken it, there is no criminal intent and therefore no crime.