Criminal Law and Negligence UNIT 2

Meaning of actus reus 


Actus Reus

Actus reus= act of omission itself 

eg. AR of murder= act of unlawful killing 

actus reus must be voluntary meaning it was a genuine choice/in control of what they were doing (DUDLEY+STEPHENS)

3 actus reus crimes: action crimes e.g. murder

result crimes e.g. ABH

by your being e.g. illegal immigrants 

omission= D failing to act 

general rule omissions dont create criminal liability 

exceptions are duty of care and when treated as an act 

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Actus Reus continued

prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that D cause result to C 

when AR and MR occur at the same time= coincidence  


kidnapped, beaten up thrown off cliff, survived climbed up cliff dies then 

found guilty. 

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causation is a requirement of the AR whereby it must be proved by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt that the D factually and legally caused the harm to the C. 

Factual causation made up of two rules: but for and deminimus 

But for means but for D's actions the C wouldn't have come to any harm WHITE 

Deminimus means the D's actions are more than a minimal cause 

Legal causation is made up of three rules: intervening act when something breaks the chain of causation SMITH

Intervening act rable foreseeable, doesn't break chain of causation PAGETT 

Thin skull means you take your victim as you find them BLAUE

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Omission= failing to act 

General rule is that omissions don't create criminal liability  

Two exceptions are where D owes duty of care or where an omission is treated as an act. 

Types of duty of care: statutory, voluntary, contractual and family 


Omission is treated as an act when there is a continuing act and supervening act FAGIN

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