INTENTION. A design, resolve, or determination of the mind.
2. Intention is required in the commission of crimes and injuries, in making contracts, and wills.
3. - 1. Every crime must have necessarily two constituent parts, namely, an act forbidden by law, and an intention. The act is innocent or guilty just as there was or was not an intention to commit a crime; for example, a man embarks on board of a ship, at New York, for the purpose of going to New Orleans; if he went with an intention to perform a lawfull act, he is perfectly innocent; but if his intention was to levy war against the United States, he is guilty of an overt act of treason. Cro. Car. 332; Fost. 202, 203; Hale, P. C. 116. The same rule prevails in numerous civil cases; in actions founded on malicious injuries, for instance, it is necessary to prove that the act was accompanied, by a wrongful and malicious intention. 2 Stark. Ev. 739. 4. The intention is to be proved, or it is inferred by the law. The existence of the intention is usually matter of inference; and proof of external and visible acts and conduct serves to indicate, more or less forcibly, the particular intention. But, in some cases, the inference of intention necessarily arises from the facts. Exteriora acta indicant interiora animi secreta. 8 Co. 146. It is a universal rule, that a man shall be taken to intend that which he does, or which is the necessary and immediate consequence of his act; 3 M. & S. 15; Hale, P. C. 229; in cases of homicide, therefore, malice will generally be inferred by the law. Vide Malice' and Jacob's Intr. to the Civ. Law, Reg. 70; Dig. 24, 18.
5. But a bare intention to commit a crime, without any overt act towards its commission, although punishable in foro, conscientiae, is not a crime or offence for which the party can be indicted; as, for example, an intention to pass counterfeit bank notes, knowing them to be counterfeit. 1 Car. Law Rep. 517.
6. - 2. In order to make a contract, there must, be an intention to make it a person non compos mentis, who has no contracting mind, cannot, therefore, enter into any engagement which requires an intention; for to make a contract the law requires a fair, and serious exercise of the reasoning faculty. Vide Gift; Occupancy.
7. - 3. In wills and testaments, the intention of the testator must be gathered from the whole instrument; 3 Ves. 105; and a codicil ought to be taken as a part of the will; 4 Ves. 610; and when such intention is ascertained, it must prevail, unless it be in opposition to some unbending rule of law. 6 Cruise's Dig. 295; Rand. on Perp. 121; Cro. Jac. 415. " It is written," says Swinb. p. 10, " that the will or meaning of the testator is the queen or empress of the testament; because the will doth rule the testament, enlarge and restrain it, and in every respect moderate and direct the same, and is, indeed, the very efficient cause. thereof. The will, therefore, and meaning of the testator ought, before all things, to be sought for diligently, and, being found, ought to be observed faithfully." 6 Pet. R. 68. Vide, generally, Bl. Com. Index, h. t.; 2 Stark. Ev. h. t.; A 1. Pand. 95; Dane's Ab. Index h. t.; Rob. Fr. Conv. 30. As to intention in changing a residence, see article Inhabitant.