- Created on: 21-05-13 17:24
Underlying principles of Criminal Liability
Actus Reus of the crime + Mens Rea of the crime = Defendant Liability
THE GUILTY ACT!
Involuntary Acts - does not form actus reus - Hill v Baxter (1958); swarm of bees
Omissions - a failure to act is not an act.
Where a person's contract requires him to act - Pittwood (1902); gatekeeper on railway crossing
Where a person's public position requires him to act - Dytham (1979); policeman failed to act
Where an Act of Parliament requires a person to act - Children and Young Persons Act 1933
Where a person fails to minimise the harmful consequences of his act - Miller (1983); fire
Where a person voluntarily takes on a duty - Stone and Dobinson (1977); anorexic sister
The link between the defendant's act and the criminal consequence.
Factual causation - this is the 'but for' test: but for the defendant's act would not have occurred? White (1910) - poison cyanide, heart attack and Pagett (1983) - girlfriend human shield
Legal causation - this is the 'operating and substantial cause' test to find the link between the defendant's act and the criminal consequence.
Jordan (1956) - medical treatment 'palpably wrong'
Smith (1959) - 2 soldiers, v stabbed taken to hospital, dropped twice, d found guilty of murder
Cheshire (1991) - complications from tracheotomy
Intervening acts or events - Novus Actus Interveniens - Malcherek (1981); life support machine
Take your victim as you find him - Blaue (1975); Jehovah's Witness, refused blood transfusion
The victim's own act - Roberts (1971); girl jumped out of moving car
THE GUILTY MIND OF THE DEFENDANT!
Direct - Mohan (1976) - direct intention in defendant's power
Indirect (obllique) - Woollin (1998) - D fed 3-month old son who choked, so D threw baby to wall, who later died
Matthews and Alleyne (2003) - D's threw V over bridge, who drowned and died
Recklessness - defendant knows there is a risk but goes ahead and takes it anyway
Cunningham (1957) - broken pre-pay gas meter, gas exploded and V became ill
Coincidence of actus reus and mens rea and transfe
Coincidence of actus reus and mens rea
The actus reus and mens rea of a crime must occur at the same time - contemporaneity rule. The idea is that a person cannot be guilty of a crime if he performs an act that causes a previously desired result.
Fagan v Metropolitan Polica Commissioner (MPC) (1969) - D stopped car on policeman and refused to move - no mens rea at first in this case, but it was later formed as D refused to move
Thabo Meli (1954) - D hit V on head, intending to kill - then threw V over cliff
Church (1966) - D threw unconscious V into river thinking V was dead
Tranferred Malice - mens rea of the crime directed at one person is transferred to the unintended victim of the crime
Mitchell (1983) - D pushed elderly man, who fell on elderly woman, who died in hospital - the court said there was no direct contact between D and V but V was direct result of D's action
These are crimes defined as requiring an actus reus only; mens rea has no relevance
Sweet v Parsley (1970) - teacher let out cottage to students who took drug
Gammon (Hong Kong) Ltd. v Attorney-General for Hong Kong (1985) - criteria's laid; presumption of mens rea, truly criminal, statute must clearly exclude mens rea, only for public safety or social concern and encouraging greater vigilance
Alphacell v Woodward (1972) - D's allowed polluted water to be discharged into river
Smedleys v Breed (1974) - caterpillar in tin of peas
London Borough of Harrow v Shah (2000) - national lottery ticket sold to under 16
Blake (1997) - unlicensed radio station broadcast
The offences of assault and battery
Assault and battery are two different offences that together are called common assault.
Assault - intentionally or recklessly causing the victim to fear immediate, unlawul harm.
Savage (1991) - mens rea is an intentionto cause victim to apprehend unlawful and immediate violence or recklessness.
Actus reus has these elements; causing the victim to apprehend violence, immediate and unlawful violence. Logdon (1976) - D pointed gun at V who got scared. Smith v Chief superintendent of Woking Police Station (1983) - no words, just action.
Battery - the unlawful application of force to another.
Thomas (1985) - school caretaker touched girls skirt. Consent can make the touching lawful.
Haystead (2000) - punched girlfriend who dropped baby.
Three offences under the Offences Against the Pers
Hierarchy of harm
Assault and battery ------> Section 47 ------> Section 20 ------> Section 18
Section 47 of the OAPA 1861 - assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH), triable either-way.Chan-Fook (1994) - bodily harm includes organs, nervous system and brain. Smith (2006) - includes person's hair.
Section 20 of the OAPA 1861 - malicious wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm (GBH), triable either-way. Must have no consent, wounding requires break of skin, ordinary and natural meaning. JCC v Eisenhower (1984) - hit by airgun pellt, internal bleeding so no wounding. Brown and Stratton (1998) - V was transsexual, attacked and left with broken nose.
Section 18 of the OAPA 1861 - wounding or GBH, triable either-way. Belfon (1976) - D slashe V with a razor.
Summary of offences
Actus reus - assault occasioning actual bodily harm
Mens rea - intention or recklessness as to either putting the victim in fear of unlawful force or applying unlawful force
Actus reus - wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm
Mena rea - intention or recklessness as to some harm
Actus reus - wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm
Mens rea - specific intent to wound or cause grievous bodily harm or resist arrest