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General Principles
A2 Law | 2010

Introduction to Criminal Law
Definition of a `Crime'

In criminal law the state plays a major role. Nearly all prosecutions are initiated by `the state'.

Crime is difficult to define, being able only be defined as conduct forbidden by the state, which when performed,…

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General Principles
A2 Law | 2010

Arguably, as Britain is a democracy: our laws should naturally tend to being representative of the public's morals. As
will be seen later, statutory rulings are not the only source of law and therefore the judiciary should be aware of the
public's view if…

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General Principles
A2 Law | 2010

Classification by Offences

1. Summary
E.g. Shoplifting, Common Assault
2. Triable Either Way
E.g. ABH, Theft
3. Indictable
E.g. Murder, Rape

The Court's Structure

There are two main criminal trial courts in the English Legal System. These are the:

1. Magistrate's Court

2. Crown…

Page 4

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General Principles
A2 Law | 2010

Decide facts and return verdict.

Reforming the Criminal Law

There are currently two methods in circulation for reforming the criminal law.

This involves putting all the statute and case law on a subject together. E.g. The Theft Act 1968

Several Acts under…

Page 5

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General Principles
A2 Law | 2010

Intoxication Not a defence as such but this plays a part in deciding whether or not D created the required mens rea.

Specific Defences
Self Defence This covers not only actions needed to defend oneself but also actions taken to defend another or

Page 6

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General Principles
A2 Law | 2010

Actus Reus
Crimes comprise of the actus reus and the mens rea.

The actus reus is the physical element of the crime. It can be in the form of:

A guilty act (D punches V)
An omission (D does not feed his son, V)…

Page 7

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General Principles
A2 Law | 2010

Road Traffic Act 1988
This made it an offence to drive WITHOUT insurance (i.e. to omit to have insurance when driving).

Pittwood (1902)
D failed to shut the gates on a level crossing and caused the death of a motorist.

Gibbins &…

Page 8

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General Principles
A2 Law | 2010

Khan & Khan (1998)
Ds supplied heroin to a new user who collapsed. They left and when they returned, she had died.
There could be a duty to summon medical help in certain circumstances.
The categories of a duty of care can be extended…

Page 9

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General Principles
A2 Law | 2010

A reasonable response in self defence does not break the chain of causation.

White (1910)
D attempted to poison his mother; however she died of a heart attack before drinking any poison. Also:
he did not give her enough poison to cause death.

Page 10

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General Principles
A2 Law | 2010

D's acts need not be the sole or even main cause of death as long as they contributed significantly to
the death.

Malchrek & Steel (1981)
D stabbed V in the stomach. She was on life support and when it was switched off ­…


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