Law Crime

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  • Created on: 01-04-13 14:20

The elements of a crime and continuing acts

A crime can be defined as a wrong against the state, regarded as criminal and punished by the state. The standard of proof is bryond reasonable doubt or so that the jury is sure. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. 

The elements of a crime: For D to be proved guilty the prosecution must that he had committed the prohibited act, and that he did so with the necessary guilty mind. This shows us that for (almost) every crime, D will only be guilty if the prosecution can show he had both the acteus reus and mens rea. However the actus reus and mens rea must coincide for the crime to be established. Consider the case of White (1910) white put arsenic in his mother's bedtime drink but before she drank it she died of natural causes. Although he has the mens rea he didnt have the actus reua so wasnt guilty of murder.

In Thabo Meli (1954) the court resolved this problem by using the notion of a continuing act. This means that as long as at some point during the actus reus D has the mens rea then the two coincide and D will be guilty. This was also used the case of Fagan (1968).

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Continuing acts

Thabo Meli (1954)- Men in the village didnt like the victim, so when he came up to the group they beat him with clubs until they thought they had killed him. They then rolled him over the edge of a cliff, but he still wasnt dead. The victim then died of hyperthermia the groups defence was they didnt have the guilty mind to give him hyperthermia. Judges think of these acts linking which they say is a continuing act, so they were guilty.

Fagan (1968)-  D was told to pull over by the curb by a police officer, so he pulls over on the curb and parks his wheel on the police officers foot, accidently (actus reus). The police officer asks him to get off his foot. D replies **** you! and gets out the car and walks away. This is a continuing act so he was guilty.

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