Difference Between Intention and Motive


Main Difference

The main difference between Intention and Motive is that Intention is performing a forbidden act with purposeful action and conscious decision, whereas Motive is the cause that induces or forbids a person from doing a particular act.

Intention vs. Motive

The intention is defined as willful doing of an act that is forbidden in law. On the other hand, motive alludes to the reason behind doing or not doing a particular act. The intention is referred to as an objective for making a crime or wrongful act. Conversely, the motive is defined as a driving force for the happened incident.

The purpose of intention is expressive. On the flip side, the purpose of motive is impulsive. The intention is substantial for the determination of criminal liability. Conversely, the motive is insubstantial for accusing someone liable for the criminal act.


Intention refers to the supposed action or the purpose of crime. On the contrary, motive refers to the reason for committing a crime. The intention has a higher level of blameworthiness due to higher crime commits. On the other hand, motive can be determined and planned, but its existence is not proved guilty.

The intention is the thing that a person plans to do or achieve, whereas motive is a reason for doing that act. The intention may not be involved in all criminal cases, but the motive is always present behind every action.

The intention is the fundamental factor in determining criminal accountability. Conversely, the motive is considered irrelevant in criminal accountability dealings. Doing an act willingly, which is prohibited by law, is regarded as intention. In contrast, the motive is not needed to be proved for the commission of charged crimes.


Comparison Chart

The things that you plan to do or achieve are called intentions.The cause of performing something unlawful is called motive.
Purposeful action and conscious decision to perform an unlawful act are regarded as an intention.Ulterior causes that force a person to do or refrain from the particular act is regarded as a motive.
Key Element
In the determination of criminal liabilityIn committing an unlawful crime
Always negativeNegative as well as positive
Part in Action
May or may notAlways present
Described As
ObjectiveDriving force
Criminal Liability
Substantial in the determination of criminal liabilityInsubstantial in the determination of criminal liability
Always badGood or bad
Court Concern
RelatedNot related

What is Intention?

In criminal law, doing an unlawful act or crime by conscious mind control and the willful decision is regarded as intention. The intention is always evil-based. The crimes forbidden by law performed by exact planning are included in terms of intention.

The practice of a certain source that leads to the application of crime reveals the intention of the suspect. In simple words, intention points towards the will and plan of a person. The intention is considered as a substantial and essential element in the determination of criminal liability because it refers to the willingness or aim of an individual.

When a person intentionally commits a crime, he is liable for punishment and is not considered guilty for any reason behind it. An intentional wrong act describes that a person is well aware of the consequences. Therefore, the intention to possess negative connotations. The law has the power to assume the intentions of the suspect.

The intention is a detachable intent, which is a critical factor in determining the question of illegal as well as public accountability. Therefore, the court is concerned with the intention of the suspect. The purpose of an action is called intention.


  • A man murders his wife, and his intention behind doing this crime is 50,000 bucks, which will be transferred to him after the death of his wife.
  • A man is captured by police with 2-kilo heroin in his bag. He intended to sell them, so he was carrying them to the customers.

What is the Motive?

A motive is labeled as a core objective or purpose behind the commission of prohibited action. The reason for doing something is called motive, which leads to intention, and then the unlawful act is performed.

All the crimes start from motive and end with intentions behind them. The inducement that compels a person for doing or not doing the particular sinful act is called motive.

The objective that claims insubstantiality in assessing criminal accountability is described as intention. The law has the power to determine the ulterior reason behind the crime. Law can assume the motive of the suspect by observing factors leading to the commission of a crime.

The investigators may be able to determine a person’s motive, but they cannot prove them accordingly and link them to crime. Therefore, the court has no concern for a person’s motive. It only deals with unlawful doings made either purposefully or unknowingly.


  • A wife suspects her husband and finally catches him red-handed, engaged in infidelity. Suffering from the feelings of jealousy and betrayal, she stabs him on his chest with the intention of his death. The motive behind this act was a sense of betrayal, which is negative.
  • A poor mother stealing bread for her hungry children from the house where she works, and a man robbing the bank to pay the surgery bills of his son is are examples of the positive type of motive.

Key Differences

  1. The intention is our pre-planned conscious act, whereas motive is an impulsive act.
  2. The intention is always evil-based. Conversely, the motive may be based on positivity or negativity.
  3. The intention has a negative connotation. On the contrary, the motive has positive as well as a negative connotation.
  4. Intention mentions to the decided accomplishment or willful verdict to perform an act banned by law. In contrast, motive refers to the ulterior reason that compels a person to do a particular act.
  5. The intention is described as an objection, whereas motive is described as a driving force that repels the individual for resentment and crime.
  6. The purpose of intention is expressed. In contrast, the purpose of motive is not expressed; rather, it is implied.
  7. The intention is a substantial and critical factor in determining criminal liability. On the flip side, the motive is not substantial in determining criminal or civic accountability.
  8. Some actions do not need intention for their occurrence. On the other hand, every action has some kind of motive behind it.
  9. The intention is deeply rooted in the field of law. Conversely, the motive is deeply rooted in the field of psychology.
  10. The court is concerned with the intention of a crime, but the court is not concerned about the motive of the crime.
  11. The intention is related solely to the suspect. Conversely, the motive is focused on all persons of interest, including the suspect.
  12. Intention needs means and opportunities with it to prove the crime. On the contrary, motive can stand for itself.


The intention is the background of the committed crime, whereas motive is the purpose behind the intent. Pre-planned crime is the intention, but an impetuous act compelled by emotions is motive.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson