Liability dependant on fault (Criminal law) (1)

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  • Liability dependant on fault in Criminal Law
    • The criminal law upholds the assumption that there is no liability if harm was caused by accident, unless the defendant is morally to blame for their actions.
    • In these cases we tend to punish the defendant's who had direct intention (highest level of intent) more severely e.g. s.18 and s.20 of the Offences Against a Person Act 1861.
      • s.20 carries a 5 year conviction, while s.18 carries a life sentence, The difference between the two is whether or not the defendant directly intended the result to harm- this is reflected in the sentences given
    • If the accused is not morally responsible for their actions they cannot be found at fault and certain defences will be available (self-defence, automatism and insanity)
      • In automatism and insanity we accept the fact that the defendant did not intend the outcome- not morally to blame. In these cases the defendant is either acquitted or found guilty by reason of insanity.
    • The mens rea requirement. The defendant must have at least seen the risk of the prohibited consequence to have intended the result.
      • In the case of Sweet v Parsley the conviction was qaushed as her actions were not truly criminal. This shows the importance of being morally at blame as for criminal law we have much evidence that liability does depend on how much you are at fault.


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