Understanding ulterior mens rea: future conduct intention is conditional intention

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Where criminal offences such as attempt and conspiracy require a defendant (D) to intend future conduct, D's intention will always be conditional. D's intention may be explicitly conditional (e.g. D intends to rob the shop, but only if unable to pay her rent), or implicitly conditional (e.g. D intends to rob the shop, but if asked, would not do so if she found it surrounded by police). Rather than interpreting and defining conditional intention as synonymous with all future conduct intention, however, courts and commentators have too often approached it as unique, separate and problematic. This has led to problems of inconsistency in application, and simple incoherence. This article sets out and defends a model of conditional intention as future conduct intention, and as the key to understanding and applying ulterior mens rea.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-336
Number of pages26
JournalCambridge Law Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • conditional intention, future intention, ulterior intention, mens rea