criminal liability unit two revision

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Unit 2- the concept of liability
Section A: principles of criminal liability
Criminal law- criminal law is concerned with the liability of an individual for wrong doing. All wrong
doings that is a crime has a precise definition. The definitions are found either in an act of parliament
such as the Offences Against A Person Act 1981 or undecided cases that have set out the law for
example on assault and battery.
The definition of a crime usually has 2 parts
1) The Actus Reus
2) The Mens Rea
The Actus Reus is Latin for guilty act and the Mens Rea is Latin for the guilty mind.
Some crimes, mostly those set out in acts of parliament rather than by reference to decided cases,
have no requirement for Mens Rea in their definition. These are known as crimes of strict liability. For
strict liability offences no evidence of intent or any other Mens Rea is required. It is however normal
for the prosecution to be required to prove causation. For example, in speeding it is necessary to
prove the defendant was "driving", but not that he intended to drive faster than permitted or even
that he knew he was doing so.
The criminal process
The criminal process is used to decide whether the crime has been committed by the accused and if
so what sentence should be imposed on a guilty defendant. When the process starts the decision to
prosecute is based on whether there is enough evidence for the prosecution to prove that the
defendant carried out the Actus Reus of the crime. This will often require the defendant to have
a) Caused a particular consequence without any intervening act having in fact caused it (a novus actus
b) Had the appropriate Mens Rea (guilty mind)
The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove this and it must be proved beyond reasonable
doubt because that is the standard of proof required.
The criminal process starts when a defendant in a criminal case is charged with crime. At all stages
criminal law is used by the prosecution to try to ensure the defendant is convicted at the end of the
process. The defendants' lawyers will also look at the law to see whether there is any defence to the
charge made against their client. If the defendant is found guilty of a crime the court will then pass
sentence on them.
Definition for the following
1) Actus reus- guilty act
2) Mens rea- guilty mind

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Strict liability- a standard for liability which may exist in either a criminal or civil context. A rule
specifying strict liability makes a person legally responsible for the damage and loss caused
by his or her acts and omissions regardless of culpability (including fault in criminal law terms,
typically the presence of mens rea).
4) Burden of proof- (Latin: onus probandi) is the obligation to shift the accepted conclusion
away from an oppositional opinion to one's own position.…read more

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Duty arising from creating a Miller 1983 Squatter failed to put out a
dangerous situation fire caused whilst he'd fallen
Duty taken on by a person Stone v Dobinson 1977 People failed responsibility
voluntarily for looking after a relative
and failed to seek obviously
needed medical attention.
The above explains and illustrates cases where an omission will impose criminal liability by the
law.…read more

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He has assumed a particular responsibility for example to care for someone such as the case
of Stone v Dobbinson where the defendants did not seek appropriate medical help resulting
in the cared for persons' death.
5) An act of parliament such as the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 which imposes a duty
to act for example to carry out the needs of a child under that persons care.…read more

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Legal Causation-medical Smith 1959 D stabbed V with a bayonet
intervention did not break during a fight in barracks. V's
chain of causation friend took him to the first
aid post, but on the way, he
dropped V twice. At the first
aid post the medical officer
was busy and took some time
to get to V who died about
two hours after the stabbing.
Had he been given proper
treatment he would probably
have recovered.…read more

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died next day.
Legal causation- the victims Williams 1992 The defendants picked up a
own act did break the chain hitchhiker on the way to
of causation Glastonbury festival. The
hitchhiker jumped out of the
car when it was travelling at
30 mph, hit his head and died.
The prosecution alleged that
the defendants were in the
course of robbing him when
he jumped out and thus their
actions amounted to
constructive manslaughter.…read more

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