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motive

The purpose behind a course of action. Motive is not normally relevant in deciding guilt or innocence (for example, killing to save someone from suffering is still murder or manslaughter), although it may be of some relevance in the crime of *libel. Nor is a bad motive relevant in deciding legal guilt. However, a good motive may be invoked as a reason for mitigating a punishment upon conviction, and a bad motive may provide circumstantial evidence that the defendant committed the crime he is charged with.

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