Law - Actus Reus

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  • Actus Reus
    • Can be an act, omission or state of affairs
    • Conduct and consequence crimes
      • Conduct - The AR is the prohibited conduct itself
        • e.g under s5a of the Road Traffic Act 1988, drink driving is a criminal offence. No consequence is required e.g causing an accident
      • Consequence - The AR must result in a consequence
        • e.g under s47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, there must be a common assault but this must cause ABH e.g a broken nose
      • Marchant and Muntz 2003 - V impaled himself on D's vehicle with spikes. D wasn't convicted as there was no act of dangerous driving.
    • The physical element of a crime
    • State of Affairs cases
      • In some rare cases, a D has been convicted even though they didn't act volunrarily
      • R v Larsonneur - Was forcibly removed from Ireland to UK. Was arrested in UK for not having permission to enter. Convicted as it was a state of affairs crime.
      • R v Winzor - Drunk man was taken from hospital to the road outside then arrested for being drunk on a highway. Wouldn't have been there if police didn't take him out the hospital. Convicted anyway as it was a state of affairs crime.
    • Voluntary nature of AR
      • The act or omission must be voluntary on behalf of the defendant.
      • Hill v Baxter - Court gave examles of where a driver could not be said to be doing the act voluntary e.g losing control because he had a heart attack while driving
      • Mitchell - D punched man causing him to fall back into an 89 y/o woman. Woman fell over and died of her injuries. D was convicted of unlawful manslaughter. Man who had been punched wasn't liable for any criminal act.
      • Generally in criminal law there must be some element of fault on the part of the defendant.
      • Involuntariness - An act needs to be voluntary for liability in criminal law, unless there is a state of affairs crime.
    • Omissions as AR
      • Statutory duty
        • Some statutes create situations where an omission will give rise to criminal liability
        • e.g s1 Children and Young Persons Act 1933 - wilfully neglecting a child
      • Contractual duty
        • Criminal law imposes a duty to act under a contract of employment if not doing so is likely to endanger lives e.g members of the emergency services
        • R v Pitwood - Pitwood was employed by a railway company to operate the level crossing gate. Left the gate open one day and a man was killed. Convicted of manslaughter as he as he had a contractual duty to protect the public which he omitted to do.
      • A duty because of a relationship
        • Some people have a special relationship recognised by the law e.g parents under a duty to take care of their children
          • R v Gibbins and Proctor - Man and woman living together starved the man's child deliberately and it died. Found guilty of murder as the man had a duty as the parent and the woman had an assumed duty.
      • A duty which has been taken on voluntarily
        • A duty will arise if someone agrees to take responsibility for someone else e.g caring for someone old
          • R v Stone and Dobinson - D took in Stone's sister with anorexia to look after her but she died. Stone owed a duty as her sister and Dobinson had voluntary taken on a duty so were guilty of manslaughter
      • A duty through one's official position
        • Dytham - D was a police officer on duty. Saw a man being kicked to death and didn't intervene. Convicted of misconduct in a public place as he didn't perform his duty
      • A duty which arisis bc the D has set a chain of events
        • Miller - D fell asleep smoking, woke up to see his mattress on fire, went back to sleep without trying to put it out and was convicted of arson.
      • Duty of doctors
        • If a doctor stops treating a patient in their best interest, it isn't an omission that can form the AR.
        • Airdale NHS trust v Bland - Court tuled the doctors could stop feeding Bland even though it would mean he'd die as it was held to be in his best interest


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