General criminal intent is an essential component of every malum in se criminal offense. Where specific intent is not an element of the offense charged, a person is presumed to intend the natural consequences of his act. Thus, an inference of general criminal intent is raised by evidence tending to show that the defendant committed the acts comprising the elements of the offense charged. The presumption of intent establishes a prima facie case for the state, and if no opposing inferences are raised by the evidence, the trial judge is not required to instruct on general criminal intent. On the other hand, if an inference that the defendant committed the act without criminal intent is raised by the evidence then the presumption dissolves and the law with respect to intent becomes a part of the law of the case which should be explained and applied by the court to the evidence in the cause.
Defendant took his grandson and a girl he thought was his granddaughter from their school. When he realized the girl was not his granddaughter, he returned her to the school. Defendant was charged for the abduction of his grandson and was found guilty thereof. Defendant now argued that a nonsuit should have been granted in the trial for the abduction of his grandson because the uncontradicted evidence established the consent of the child's father.
Whether the grandfather may be held liable for abducting his grandson despite the father’s consent thereto.
The court agreed and reversed. The court stated that in the absence of a custody order in favor of the mother, the father of the child taken could not be guilty of the crime of child abduction and this rule was logically extended and the father's consent was a defense. The court held that a nonsuit was proper because the testimony was entirely favorable to defendant. The court found that the evidence was sufficient in the case of the abduction of the girl to require submission to the jury and to support the verdict. However, the court ordered a new trial because the trial court erred in not properly explaining intent as an element of the criminal act and whether the mistake under which defendant was acting was made in good faith and with due care to negate criminal intent.