Actus Reus

Brief revision summary on the term 'actus reus'

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  • Created by: Ayesha
  • Created on: 26-03-13 15:36
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Actus reus: the conduct or state of affairs which a particular offence prohibits, i.e. the guilty act.
The actus reus is usually committed through a voluntary act, taking into account of the surrounding
circumstances, e.g. causing death by dangerous driving. This is a result crime.
It can consist of an act, e.g. in Hill v Baxter, when the court discussed examples of when the driver of a car
would not be driving voluntarily. These include being stung by a swarm of bees.
Such actions would not account to actus reus and therefore the defendant could not be guilty.
Actus reus also concerns omissions.
`Failing to act'
`Legal' duty upon an individual to act
Assuming responsibility
Reasonable step to care for the individual.
R v Stone & Dobinson
Found guilty of manslaughter.
Failed to provide sufficient care.
Creating a dangerous situation
Legal obligation to take reasonable steps to reduce the danger.
R v Miller
Found guilty of arson.
Failed to put the fire out or call emergency services.
Legal obligation to follow contract.
R v Pittwood
Found guilty of manslaughter.
Failed to carry out task given to him.
Legal obligation to look after children/partner.
R v Gibbons & Proctor
Found guilty of murder
Failed to provide reasonable care.
Where an act of Parliament expressively states that one will be required to act
Road Traffic Act 1988
E.g. not wearing a seatbelt.
E.g. failing to give a specimen test.


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