An indroduction to criminal law

made this my self took ages to do ,, an indrod to criminal law , AS law , elements of a crime , mens rea , actus reus etc 

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Connah Greenhalgh
An introduction to criminal law
In order for a person to be found guilty of a crime it is necessary for the prosecution in the majority of cases
to prove 2 elements, the Actus Reus and the Mens Rea
The Actus Reus is the "doing part" of any crime .It is the physical elements of the crime .Actus Reus can be
translated to mean act. However that definition is too simple .The Actus Reus are all the elements of an
offence other than the mental element. Result crimes: Sometimes D's behaviour must cause a certain result
e.g. murder ­ V's death must be caused. This is where causation is a crucial issue.
The Actus Reus is the act part of a crime e.g. pulling the trigger or throwing the punch. The Actus rues must be
voluntary, which means that the defendant is in control off his/her actions.
Case: Kay V Butterworth ­ drove into a group of soldiers when sleeping, convicted of driving without due
care and attention he knew was tired and should have stopped
Case: Hill v Baxter 1958): D was behind the wheel when his car collided with another; at his trial on a
charge of dangerous driving, he claimed he had been overcome by an unknown illness and had been
unconscious. Held: Some credible evidence must support a claim of sudden illness or concussion, they said,
usually going beyond D's mere assertion, but the burden of proof thereafter is on the prosecution to show
that the act was a voluntary one. Lord Goddard, quoting Humphreys J in Kay v Butterworth 1945 resurrected
the now famous and hypothetical `Swarm of Bees'.
State of Affairs offences: Some offences are termed "State of Affairs" cases because they are committed
when D is not acting voluntarily. These are rare but D would be guilty without voluntarily committing the
crime, simply because being there. R V Winzar ­ defendant is in hospital , drunk , causing disturbance , the
police are called , the police took him outside of the hospital and D was found "drunk on a highway "
Involuntary action: in Bratty V AG a definition was given when D had strangled a girl whist suffering
from epilepsy... "An involuntary action is one done by the muscles without any control of the mind
such as a spasm, reflex or convulsion "
Omissions ­ Failure to act when you have a duty to act
Whist most crimes require the defendant to commit a certain act; the D can be guilty because of a failure to
act. This is known as Omission.
The general Rule is that you will not be guilty of a failure to act (an omission) as there is no Good Samaritan
law. However there are some situations when you will be guilty for a failure to act.
The Exceptions:
2 types of duty to act:
Statutory Duty: Parliament has specifically made a duty to act in a statute (Act of
Parliament) e.g. Road traffic act, failure to stop after an accident
Common law Duty : this is a duty created by judges in the courts (examples below )
1. A Contractual Duty to a 3rd party ­ R v Pittwood (1902)

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Connah Greenhalgh
D left crossing gate open; this led to a carter being killed by a train. D had a duty to close the
gate (owed to the railway rather to the public) but it was enough that failure to act could
lead to a conviction, Guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.
2. Voluntary acceptance of a Duty
Although the law doesn't force someone to take on a duty (there is no
Good Samaritan law) once it has been voluntary taken on by D.…read more

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Connah Greenhalgh
instead of using the Latin phrase "De minimis", it was acceptable to tell the just that it must be more
than a slight or trifling link. The Court of Appeal upheld D's conviction for causing death by
dangerous driving.
Chain of Causation
This is a chain of events which starts with the D's initial act and ends with the consequence to the
victim e.g. the victim is injured or dies. There must be a direct link from the D's
conduct to the consequence.…read more

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Connah Greenhalgh
was a break in the chain of causation. This is seen as exceptional circumstances but hasn't
been overruled.
3. You must take your victim as you find him ­ "thin skull " rule
If there are particular circumstances about the victim which D is not aware off,
i.e.…read more

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Connah Greenhalgh
There are 2 elements;
1. D took an unjustified risk
2. An awareness by D that they are taking a risk
The subjective test comes from
R v Cunningham (1957)
Cunningham entered an empty bed sitter in order to steal money from the gas meter. When he ripped it from
the wall, gas escaped leaking next door and poisoning the tenant.…read more

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Connah Greenhalgh
rea was that he thought she was already dead. , the court said the whole event was in the "same series of
AR's and MR's and he was guilty.
In Fagan v MPC (1969) Continuing Act Theory
A police officer ordered D to park to park his car on the kerb and D agreed, he drove his car onto
they police officers foot . This was an accident but when asked to remove the car he said "f*** you,
you can wait".…read more

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Connah Greenhalgh
Justification for Strict liability/ Reasons for S/L
1. Protecting Public interest :SL offences help protect society by regulation of activities "involving
potential danger to public health , safety or morals" case examples ­ Smedley Peas
2. SL promotes greater care over those activities mentioned above by encouraging higher standards
in matters such as hygiene in processing and selling food ­ Smedley case
3. It makes sure that businesses are run properly
4.…read more


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