Criminal Liability - from Actus Reus & Mens Rea to Strict Liability

Principles of Criminal Liability:

My notes (a distinctly shortened version of them!) for: Actus Reus, Omissions, Causation, Mens Rea and Absolute/Strict Liability

More will be up soon on other areas of law, i.e. attemps, non fatal offences etc. Just have to type them!

Please comment or message me if you spot any mistakes as I'd like to know if I've been revising the wrong thing!!! And also, if you can think of any more evaluation points for mens rea....

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  • Created by: Vixxx92
  • Created on: 15-05-11 18:01

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1) Issues of Criminal Liability: Actus Reus, Omissions, Causation, Mens Rea, Criminal Liability and Offences of Strict Liability


Actus Reus and Omissions
The Actus Reus is the physical element of a crime
It may be an act or a failure to act (an omission)
It must be voluntary on the…

Page 2

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o Decided by judge, if there is sufficient evidence, and jury, if it exists and has been broken
o Makes the law able to expand for new situations
o Creates uncertainty in the law
Should a person really be liable for failure to act when they have assumed a duty?…

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Life Support Machines do not count as a n.i.a:
R v Malcharek (1981) ­ D stabbed his wife; she was shown to be brain dead and the life support was switched off. D was charged with
murder: turning off a life support was not held to be an n.i.a.
`Fright…

Page 4

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2. Recklessness.
Recklessness is a lower level of mens rea than intention
It is based on the subjective approach:
R v Cunningham (1957) ­ D tore a gas meter from a wall to steal money from it. The resulting gas leak caused a next door
neighbour some harm. N.G ­…

Page 5

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AO2 Points on the Law on Mens Rea
[With respect to Oblique Intention] the difficulties the courts have faced in deciding foresight of consequences has resulted in several layers
of confusing case law and no definitive result
Nedrick test favours the D as it is an extremely high standard of…

Page 6

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Approximately half of all statutory offences of strict liability
What happens in an act is `silent' to Mens Rea?
o The `Gammon Tests' are used (Gammon (Hong Kong) Ltd v Attorney General of Hong Kong):
1. There is always an initial presumption of MR
2. The presumption may be displaced…

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