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Section A Actus Reus

1. Definition
Actus reus is a Latin term meaning guilty action. However, in law, not only an act but also an
omission can be described as the actus reus of a crime.

2. Acts
First of all an act must be voluntary. In Hill v Baxter,…

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The general rule in English law is that there is no liability for a failure to act. For example, we
can watch a blind child walk over the edge of a cliff and are under no legal duty to try to stop
him, even if we are close enough to…

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Where a person causes accidental damage, he is under a duty to take reasonable steps to limit
the spread of the damage.
R v Miller (1983)
While squatting in a house, Miller fell asleep with a lighted cigarette. The mattress on which
he was lying caught fire. He was woken…

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White put some potassium cyanide into his mother's wine glass, intending to kill her as he
would inherit under her will. In fact, the dose was too small to succeed. Nevertheless, her
body was found soon afterwards on the settee in her living room. The full glass was next to…

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R v Roberts (1971) CA
The victim jumped out of a car travelling over 20 mph after the driver, who was giving her a
lift to a party, told her to undress and grabbed her coat. He also told her that he had beaten up
other girls who had refused.…

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murder, arguing that it was not the stab wound but the bad medical treatment that had caused
the death of the victim. He won his appeal: there had been a series of medical errors, and
these had been the sole cause of his victim's death. The court said that the…


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