Motive Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Motive, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Motive?

In the criminal law, it refers to the reasons because of which the person commited the crime. It can be greed, malice, fear, revenge or anything which makes the state of mind belief or emotionally binding to commit certain act which can be a crime.The prosecution need not have an evidence to proof the motive unlike the “intent” which needs to be proved.

History and Meaning of Motive

The concept of motive has been a crucial component of criminal law for centuries. Motive is a legal term that refers to the reason why a person has committed an offense. The motive does not necessarily have to be unlawful, but it needs to be a significant contributing factor to the commission of a crime. Motive is often an important element in criminal trials because it can help establish intent, which is a requisite element in most criminal offenses.

Examples of Motive

  1. A woman kills her husband for his life insurance policy payout.
  2. A man robs a bank to pay off his gambling debts.
  3. An employee embezzles money from their company because they are undergoing financial difficulties.
  4. A person commits arson to take revenge from someone.
  5. A group of people vandalizes a shop out of anger because they dislike the owner.

Legal Terms Similar to Motive

  1. Mens Rea - Mens rea is legal term that refers to the mental state or intention of the person at the time of committing a crime.
  2. Intent - Intent refers to a person's purpose or design to commit a crime.
  3. Malice - Malice is a legal term that refers to the desire or intention to harm others, either physically or emotionally.
  4. Motive Evidence - Motive evidence is a type of evidence that is used to show the motive that led the defendant to commit the crime.
  5. Causation - Causation refers to the link between the defendant's actions and the resulting harm or injury.