Legal Notes

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  • Created by: gonnjaso
  • Created on: 03-05-16 06:05

Definition and Areas of Criminal and Civil Law

Criminal Law: A type of public law, that involves offences committed against the state/community. Crimes are considered offences against the public, and laws aim to regulate people's behaviour.

  • Includes offences against the state (treason), the person (murder), property (theft) and the community (driving offences)
  • Classified by seriousness:
    • Indictable Offences (more serious crimes)
    • Summary Offences (less serious offences)
    • Indictable Offences triable summarily (Offender can ask to have these indictable offences heard as summary offences)

Civil Law: Involves disputes between individuals/groups which results in harm/loss. It aims to protect the rights, and return the 'wronged party' to their original position

  • Contract Law
    • This involves an agreement entered into with the intention of it being legally binding
  • Tort Law
    • Person/Party commiting a 'civil wrong' against another (negligence, defmation, disturbance or trespass
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Parties in civil and criminal cases

Criminal Trial

  • The person accused of a criminal offence is known as a defender or the accused
  • The Prosecution is the party who takes a person to court on behalf of the state in an attempt to prove their guilt
  • A criminal case is cited as being between the Crown/Prosecution and the defendant
    • It is written and reffered to as: R v Michael

Civil Trial

  • A person claiming to have been wronged is known as the plaintiff
  • The person who is bein complained about is the defendant
  • A civil case is cited and written as: Plaintiff v Defendant
    • E.g. Donoghue v Stevenson (1932) UK
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Principles of Criminal and Civil Law

Criminal Law

  • Elements of a Crime
    • In order to prove that someone is guilty of an offence, 2 elements must be shown
      • Mens Rea - 'guilty mind' or intention to commit the crime
      • Actus Reus - actually committed the crime, or the 'guilty act'
  • Burden of Proof
    • The Prosecution must prove that the defendant committed the crime. The defendant doesn't need to prove he/she is not guilty
    • This is known as the 'presumption of innocence'
  • Standard of Proof
    • The Prosecution must prove his/her case is Beyond Reasonable Doubt
    • This means 100% certainty is needed and reasonable doubt is not enough
  • The Age of Reason
    • Under 10 yrs old in Vic, you cannot be charged with a crime
    • Incapable of mens rea. they don't understand the consequences
    • Between 10-14 can be charged IF it can be proved they understood the crime
    • Between 15-18 can be charged, as they are considered the same as adults in forming mens rea
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Principles of Criminal and Civil Law 2

The legal principles of Civil law are:

  • Burden of Proof
    • The plaintiff has the burden of proof in a civil trial, that is they must prove the defendant committed a civil wrong. The defendant doesn't have to prove that he/she didn't commit the wrong
  • Standard of Proof
    • In a civil case the plaintiff must prove his/her case 'on the balance of probabilities'. This means the plaintiff must show that their case/version of the facts is more probable/likely than the defendants case.
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Verdicts and outcomes of Criminal and Civil Law

Criminal Law

  • The only possible outcome in criminal law is either guilty or not guilty

Civil Law

  • A finding for the plaintiff (defendant is liable/responsible) OR
  • A finding for the defendant (defendant is NOT liable/responsible)
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