Specific & General Intent Crimes: What’s the Difference?

  •   None
intent crime

There are different types of crimes such as felonies and misdemeanors. And, there are different classification of crimes such as: specific intent crimes, general intent crimes, malicious crimes and strict liability crimes. Malicious crimes include crimes such as arson and common law murder. Regulatory offenses, selling liquor to minors and statutory rape fall into the category of strict liability crimes. The majority of crimes are either specific intent crimes and general intent crimes.


To make it simple, a specific intent crime involves two levels of intent. In order for an individual to commit a specific intent crime, she or he must: (1) have a desire to commit an intentional unlawful act; and, (2) intend for that unlawful act to achieve a specific result. For example, take the Henry County case of Christy Sims whose former boyfriend deliberately threw industrial strength drain cleaner onto her face intending to disfigure her. Sims survived the attack but was left permanently disfigured and suffered third and fourth-degree burns on her face and upper body. Her ex-boyfriend, Andrew Fordham, was charged and convicted with one count aggravated assault and counts aggravated battery.

Some Specific Intent Crimes Include:

  • Aggravated Assault
  • Aggravated Battery
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Intent-to-Kill Murder
  • Voluntary Manslaughter
  • Embezzlement
  • Conspiracy


A general intent crime does not require any kind of intention or purpose in committing an unlawful act. Crimes resulting from negligence or recklessness are generally general intent crimes. Basically, a general intent crime merely requires the commission of an unlawful act. For example, Brenda sees her ex-boyfriend at the movies with his new girlfriend. She approaches the couple and punches her ex-boyfriend in the gut. He broke up with her via text, which, she thought was cowardly. She intentionally punched him and unlawfully applied force to his person. It doesn’t matter if Brenda’s intended to harm her ex or not. Her intent to punch him is all that is required to commit the general intent crime of battery.

Some General Intent Crimes Include:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • False Imprisonment
  • Involuntary Manslaughter
  • Depraved-Heart Murder


As you may have guessed, proving a general intent crime is easier than proving that a defendant committed a specific intent crime. A conviction of a general intent crime only requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant committed an unlawful act whether or not he or she had the intention to cause a specific result. For a specific intent crime, the prosecution must prove that the defendant committed an unlawful act and had the intention to cause a specific result or harm to the victim.


If you or a loved one has been charged with any crime, call Bixon Law today. You need an experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyer who will defend your legal rights and vigorously advocate on your behalf to have your case dismissed or the charges against you reduced. As experienced trial attorneys, we are also not afraid to take your case to trial if necessary. We represent clients in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. We are lawyers who are committed to helping people in difficult situations and we invite you to call us at 404-551-5684 for a free consultation today.