Conduct that harms other people or their property is generally called a tort. It is a private wrong against a person for which the person may recover damages. The injured party may sue the wrongdoer to recover damages to compensate him for the harm or loss caused. The conduct that is a tort may also be a crime.
Some torts require intent before there will be liability and some torts require no intent. In other words, in some cases there is liability for a tort even though the person committing the tort did not have any intent to do wrong. For example, a person going on private property without the consent of the landowner is liable for the tort of trespass even though the person may have not known he was on someone else’s property (e.g., he made an honest mistake as to the location of the boundary line).
In other torts, there must be intent. For example, in the case of slander, it is necessary to show that the defendant intended to cause harm, or, at least had the intent to do an act that a reasonable person would know would likely cause harm. As a general rule, motive is irrelevant except as evidence to show the existence of intent.