As law Unit 2 - Criminal Liability - Actus Reus

These sum up actus reus and mens rea and relavent cases :)

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Actus Reus - Voluntary Acts and Omissions

To prove someone is guilty of committing a crime you must have actus reus and mens rea.                                                                                                        Actus Reus means Guilty Act. This act can be a voluntary act, which means they did it out of their own free will or an omission which means a failure to act.

You can only use an omission as Actus Reus in 5 common law exceptions;

1) Where a family relationship exists - Downes

2) Where the defendant assumes responsibility for a person - R v Stone and Dobinson

3) A duty arising from an official position - Dytham

4) Under Contract - Pittwood

5) Where the defendant has started a chain of events - R v Miller

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Actus Reus - Causation - Factual and Legal

Causation - to prove the defendant cause the unlawful act

Factual causation - The 'but for' test - 'would the victim have escaped harm but for the actions of the defedant'?  - White (nofactualcausation)   - R v Pagett (factual causation)

Legal Causation                                                                                                      - Was the defendant a significant cause or was there a more significant one?  

Was there an intervening act or a break in the chain of causation?                      

R v Cheshire (no intervening act)    - R v Jordan (intervening act)                      R v Smith (no intervening act)

only in exceptional circumstances is medical negligence ever considered an intervening act !!!!

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Actus Reus - Intervening act and foreseeability +

If the intervening act was foreseeable then the defendant is usually liable despite the intervening act

R v Roberts - womans jumped out of a car to avoid sexual advanaces (her actions were foreseeable)

R v Williams and Davis - Gave a lift to a hitch hiker, robbed him, jumped from car and died (actions were not foreseeable)

The 'thin skull' rule states that you must take your victim as you find them

R v Blaue - Victim was jehovah's witness, stbbed, refused blood transfusion and died, would have lived with blood transfusion (must take the victim as you find them)  

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Ben Williams


Amazing! Going to be using these for my revision, summed up amazingly!



more info needed for cases but well summed up :)

William Geraghty


Very usefull :) Exam in a few hours    ¬____________________________¬

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