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
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 !!!!
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)