criminal law

  • Created by: Hbrandxx
  • Created on: 29-04-19 14:38

Actus Reus

Definition 

  • Latin maxim, interpreted as 'guilty act'- prohibited conduct of the abused, omission, only cupable if there's a duty to act (common/statutory), consequence or state of affiars. 
  • Act must be voluntary, unlike automatism- something external or any reflex action/illness (if internal can only plead insanity, doesn't involve self-induced automatism).

Cardinal principle

  • No act's punishable unless it's with a criminal mind. Lord Coke says a blameworthy state of mind affects the conduct, thus making the person legally guilty; actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea.

Causation

Factual Causation: BUT FOR: but for D's actoins, would the outcome have occured? Law failed to adequately use this in White, suggesting need for a new test. 

Legal Causation: operative + substantial cause must be reasonably foreseeable without an intervening event. 

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Actus reus 2

Intervening acts

  • Defendants acts provided a settng, so chain is broken (Smith).
  • If reasonably foreseeable, legal causation exists.
  • 'Free, deliberate and informed intervention' by T breaks chain of causation between D's act and prohibited outcome, must render D's conduct no longer 'operating + substantial'.

Omissions

  • Cannot be legally guilty for doing nothing however there are exceptions in the law as people can omit legal duties.
  • No specific 'duty to rescue' however certain statutory/common law offences that are omission offences e.g. 'failure to look after children' 
  • Omissions can only be committed where there's a specific duty to act under common law.
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Mens rea

Internal/external mens rea:

  • Subjective mens rea: looking 'internally' to D's mind e.g. criminal damage requires mens rea of recklessness so prosecution must prove D foresaw risk.
  • Objective mens rea: external to D's mind e.g. negligence is an external mens rea state so to prove negligence prosecution must show D's conduct dropped below expected standards

Mens rea in context

  • Strict liability (AR w/no corresponding MR): strict offences (only mens rea needed is that D's conduct was voluntary) and strict liability elements: offences which require mens rea to certain actus reus elements but not all.
  • Ulterior mens rea: doesnt correspond to a result element of actus reus e.g. to be liable for theft, D must appropriate the property of another (AR) dishonestly with intention to permanently deprive V of that (MR). The intention to deprive is the ulterior mens rea requirement (doesn't have to happen for offence to be committed).
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Voluntary act requirement and mens rea terms 

  • Mens rea for conduct element: focus on 'voluntariness' of D's movement/omission to move.

The test for voluntariness

  • Did D have control over her conduct (act/omission) at the relevant time?
  • Will be assumed D's conduct was voluntary unless D can prove otherwise.
  • The only exception to involuntariness due to sleepwalking, fudge etc is where D's involuntariness is self-induced e.g. intoxication, sleep deprivation.

Intention: mens rea term

  • Intention is the most serious standard of mens rea- greatest culpability/blameworthiness
  • Direct intention: D intends if she acts with purpose/aim towards it. Leading case- Moloney.
  • Oblique intention: a) virtually certain to arise b) recognises that it's virtually certain and c) jury finds that this recognition amounts to an intention. Leading case defining it is Woolin.
  • Where an offence has mens rea of intention, it can be satisifed by either direct/oblique intention.
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mens rea 2

Voluntary act requirement and mens rea terms 

  • Mens rea for conduct element: focus on 'voluntariness' of D's movement/omission to move.

The test for voluntariness

  • Did D have control over her conduct (act/omission) at the relevant time?
  • Will be assumed D's conduct was voluntary unless D can prove otherwise.
  • The only exception to involuntariness due to sleepwalking, fudge etc is where D's involuntariness is self-induced e.g. intoxication, sleep deprivation.

Intention: mens rea term

  • Intention is the most serious standard of mens rea- greatest culpability/blameworthiness
  • Direct intention: D intends if she acts with purpose/aim towards it. Leading case- Moloney.
  • Oblique intention: a) virtually certain to arise b) recognises that it's virtually certain and c) jury finds that this recognition amounts to an intention. Leading case defining it is Woolin.
  • Where an offence has mens rea of intention, it can be satisifed by either direct/oblique intention.
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Direct and oblique intention

Direct intention

  • Intention is present if it forms part of her purpose when acting (internal/subjective requirement) e.g. D smashes V's vase in retaliation for V scratching her car (commits criminal damage with intention to circumstance + result elements)
  • 1. D directly intends the result element of offence (damage) by acting to create damage
  • 2: D directly intends circumstance element (property belongs to another) as she hopes it belongs to V

Oblique intention

  • Always startwith direct intention but if there's doubt as to direct intent look to oblique.
  • Assess: D obliquely intends result element if that result was a virtually certain consequence of her conduct, realised it was, and jury find the realisation amounted to intention
  • Assess: D has obliquely intended a circumstance element if the circumstance was virtually certain to be present at time of act, realised it was virtually certain to be present then, jury find the realisation amounted to an intention
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Oblique intention test

Leading case confirming 3 part test- Woolin

  • A: Objective part (offence element must be a virtual certainty)
  • Virtually certain in fact: looking to the objective external world
  • B: subjective part (D must foresee the offence element as virtually certain)
  • Looks to mind of D, thus if the jury find D honestly didn't foresee the offence element as a virtual certainty, even if it was virtually certain in fact, this part of the test won't be satisfied and the jury aren't entitled to find oblique intention.
  • C: jury part (jury may find intention)
  • Only when the first 2 parts are satisfied are the jury entitled to find that D intended the offence element; provides 'moral elbow room' but allows jury to deice the law and is unpredictable/inconsitent.
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Mens rea terms

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Mens rea terms

Knowledge 

  • D has knowledge of an offence element if a) believes it's the case and b) correct in belief
  • Seen as equivalent culpability to 'intention': subjective on part A (mind of D), and objective on B
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Mens rea terms

Knowledge 

  • D has knowledge of an offence element if a) believes it's the case and b) correct in belief
  • Seen as equivalent culpability to 'intention': subjective on part A (mind of D), and objective on B
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Mens rea terms

Knowledge 

  • D has knowledge of an offence element if a) believes it's the case and b) correct in belief
  • Seen as equivalent culpability to 'intention': subjective on part A (mind of D), and objective on B

Wilful blindness

  • A state of knowledge can also be found where D a) foresees possibilty of certain circumstance; b) would be easy for D to discover truth and c) D deliberately avoids finding out and D) circumstance is in fact present= D 'shut her eyes' to facts

Belief 

  • Less culpable^, D believes a fact but it needn't be true.
  • D believs a circumstance exists/result will be caused, where she foresees it as highly likely.
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Mens rea terms

Recklessness

  • Must show D a) foresaw risk of relevant element of AR and b) unreasonably continued to run that risk. Subjective and objective elements.
  • Subjective part a: D subjectively foreseen a risk of the relevant circumstance/result
  • Objective part b: does court think D unreasonably chose to run that risk

Intoxication as mens rea

  • Causes issues for application of recklessness: D charged with an offence requiring proof of recklessness but failed to foresee risk due to intoxication.
  • Involuntary intoxication: no liability but if D's lack of foresight was her own fault, law can accept D's intoxication is equivalent to a mens rea of recklessness.
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