Rules and Theory of Criminal Law - Actus Reus

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  • Rules and Theory of Criminal Law
      • "actus reus" - the 'doing part'
        • 1. an act 2. causing (causation) 3. a result
      • "mens rea" - the 'thinking part'
        • only exception is strict liability crimes
      • must have both actus reus and mens rea to be guilty!
      • Acts
        • Must be voluntary (Hill v Baxter)
        • Only exception for liability involuntarily is in a state of affairs crime (Larsonneur)
      • Omissions
        • Basic rule - you are not liable for omissions
          • Different in France - e.g.when Diana died, paparazzi liable for not assisting her in dangerous situation
        • D's may argue their acts actually amount to an omission so they're not guilty (Fagan)
        • EXCEPTION (6)
          • Contractual duty (Pittwood)
          • Responsibility as a 'carer'/duty voluntarily (Stone & Dobinson)
          • Creates a dangerous situation /chain of events (Miller)
          • Certain relationships (Gibbins v Proctor)
          • Statutory exceptions (Road Traffic Act 1998)
          • Duty through an official position (Dytham)
      • Factual
        • 'but for' test
          • would the consequence have resulted, but for the actions of D?
        • White - didn't cause death
        • Pagett - did cause death and was guilty
      • Legal
        • general test: has an intervening act broken the chain of causation?
        • specific test: was D an 'operating and substantial cause'? (Smith)
        • D must be significant contribution to injury (doesn't have to be only cause)
        • Medical treatment won't break the chain unless it is so independent of D's actions that D's contribution becomes insignificant (Cheshire)
        • Chain broken because treatment was 'palpably wrong' (Jordon)
        • Turning off life support does not break the chain (Malcherek)
        • the 'thing' between D's actions and the result will be looked at and if it is foreseeable it won't break the chain
          • could be an action of others (Pagett)
          • or response by victim (Roberts, Corbett)
          • or it could be a natural event
        • Take your victim as you find them (Blaue)
          • 'thin skull' principle
    • RESULT
      • different offences require different results
        • e.g. result for murder is death
        • e.g. result for GBH is serious harm
      • offence charged depends on the outcome / result


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