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Actus Reus
Actus reus means the physical or doing part of a crime. Each crime has its own actus reus, e.g.
for murder it is the unlawful killing of another human under the Queen's peace. The actus reus
can be categorised as being a result (consequence) crime such as murder; it can be a conduct
crime such as perjury; or it can be a state of affairs as in Larsonneur.
To be liable the act must be voluntary, .i.e. of Ds own free will. In Hill v Baxter it was stated
that the actus reus cannot be a reflex action, e.g. reacting to a swarm of bees. The actus reus
must also be a positive act rather than an omission. A person generally is not guilty if he fails
to do something. However, there are exceptions where there is a duty, e.g. Gibbins & Proctor
(parents); Pittwood (employment). Finally, result crimes require both factual (White) and legal
(Smith) causation to be established.
Mens Rea
Mens rea is the mental element of the crime, e.g. murder ­ intention. One type of mens rea is
intention. Direct intention is the highest form of mens rea and means D desired the result.
Oblique intention means Ds intention is found because the result of his action was a virtual
certainty and he appreciated this. This type of mens rea can be seen in Nedrick and Woolin.
Another form of mens rea is recklessness. It means D takes an unjustifiable risk (conscious
risk taking) that he is aware of. It is known as subjective recklessness as D is tested against
what he believed. D acts recklessly if he is aware of a risk and takes it. This definition comes
from Cunningham. The case of R v G&R abolished objective recklessness.
Other factors to consider are transferred malice whereby Ds mens rea is transferred from the
intended V to the actual V (Latimer, Mitchell). Also, coincidence which means the mens rea
can happen at any point during the AR (Fagan v MPC, Thabo Meli).
Crimes not requiring mens rea to be proven are strict liability offences, e.g. speeding,
Alphacell v Woodward.
Causation is a separate principle connected to actus reus that has to be proven in result
crimes. It must be shown Ds actions caused the result, e.g. for murder Ds actions caused the
There are two types of causation that must be proven: factual and legal. Factual causation
means the result would not have happened but for Ds actions. In White D could not be guilty
of murder because V died regardless of his actions.
Legal causation means Ds actions contributed to the result in a more than minimal way. Other
factors may also contribute but as long as they do not break the chain of causation D will still
be guilty. The chain must not be broken by an intervening act by: a third party; the victim; a
natural but unpredictable event. Actions of a 3rd party did not break the chain in: Smith ­
wounds were operating and substantial; Cheshire ­ only in most extraordinary circumstances
will the chain be broken; Pagett ­ actions of police were reasonably foreseeable. Actions of V

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Roberts ­ Vs action was reasonable; Blaue ­ D takes V as he finds him
(thin skull rule).
Strict liability
Strict liability offences are a separate category because they do not require any form of mens
rea. As long as D has committed the act (actus reus), he will be guilty. E.g. speeding. Most are
found in statute law, e.g. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. One example of a common
law offence is blasphemous libel (Lemon v Gay News).…read more

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V, his mens rea was put together with his actus reus of disposing of her body in a river
which drowned her.
Assault ­ S.39
D may have committed assault, contrary to S.39 Criminal Justice Act 1988. It means D
intentionally or recklessly made V apprehend immediate unlawful violence (Fagan).
Apprehend means a general awareness of violence (Smith v Supt Woking) even if it is a joke
(Logdon). V was aware of violence because ...…read more

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If not already dealt with:
Common assault is assault or battery. Here, there is assault / battery.
* Assault is to make V apprehend immediate unlawful violence. Apprehend means a general
awareness (Smith v Supt Woking) even if a joke (Logdon). Immediate can be at any time
(Smith v Supt Woking). Unlawful violence can be by words or gestures, e.g. silent phone
calls/words (Ireland) or threatening letters (Ramos). Here, v was aware of violence because
... It was immediate because ...…read more

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Recklessness is not sufficient (Belfon). Here, D intended serious harm because
GBH With Intent ­ S.18
D may have committed malicious wounding or inflicting GBH with intent contrary to S.18
OAPA 1861.
The actus reus is either wound or GBH. A wound is a break to the 2nd layer of skin (Moriarty v
Brooks) and cannot be an internal injury (Eisenhower). GBH is really serious harm (Smith) and
requires hospital treatment (Dugdale & Furmstone).…read more

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D may be granted bail (freedom whilst awaiting trial) by the police or the courts. If bail is
refused, D will be remanded in custody. The courts grant bail under the Bail Act 1976. There is
a general right to bail (S.4). It will be refused if D might fail to surrender or commit other
offences. The courts consider the seriousness of the offence and Ds previous convictions.
Both can place conditions on bail, e.g. surety, surrender passport.…read more

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Mitigating factors make the sentence more lenient. They include: young defendant, no
previous convictions, showing remorse, guilty plea (early), attempts to compensate V. Here,
the following factors may be mitigating: ...
The court considers the aims of sentencing (S.142 (1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003).
Deterrence (put off individual or society); retribution (punish); public protection
(violent/sexual crimes); reparation (give back); and rehabilitation (reform). Here, the judge
may wish to achieve ...…read more


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