Actus Reus Cases

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Actus reus defined.

Actus reus is defined as the guilty act.

However, there are usually considerations when determining whether there was a guilty act;

- the act appears involuntary; or,

- there has been a failure to act; an omission.

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Actus Reus Cases under each term.

Involuntary acts.

Hill v Baxter - involuntary acts such as sneezing, things that are out of the individuals control.

Where a person's contract requires him to act.

R v Pittwood - failed to close a gate on trainline.

Where a person's public position requires him to act.

R v Dytham - police officer failed to stop an attack and someone died.

Where an act of parliament requires him to act.

Not wearing a seatbelt when driving, neglect towards a child.

Where a person fails to minimise the harmful consequences of his act.

R v Miller - smoking and fell asleep.

Where a person voluntarily takes on a duty.

Stone and Dobinson - tried to care but didn't call doctor on anorexic sister.

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Conclusion

When asked to explain the meaning of the term actus reus, you will need to describe:

1. the idea of a guilty act.

2. the idea of a voluntary act.

3. the fact there is no liability if there is not act.

4. the exceptions where there is liability for an omission.

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