actus reus and mens rea notes


Actus Reus: 

Actus Reus relates to what the defendant is doing and that conduct must cause a consequence. 

The defendant must be acting voluntarily. Consider the cases of R v Mitchell 1983 and R v Larsonneur 1933

In Hill v Baxter 1958, the judge gave an example of a driver driving dangerously who is being attacked by bees not being liable for the subsequent accident as his actions were not voluntary. 

Omission means failure to act. 

  • Statutory duty to act (s1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933)
  • Duty arising from special relationship (R v Gibbons and Proctor 1918)
  • Duty arising from the assumption of care for another (R v Stone and Dobinson 1977)
  • Duty arising from contract of employment (R v Pittwood 1902
  • Duty arising from official position (R v Dytham 1979
  • Duty to avert a danger of one's own making (R v Miller 1983)

State of Affairs - a defendant can commit an offence by simply 'being' rather than 'doing'. Having an offensive weapon in a public place is an example. The defendant doesn't have to do anything with the weapon, nor does it have to be visible. It is enough just to have it in one's possession in a public place. 

Consequences - a crime can be an 'action', for example speeding, or it can be a 'consequence', for example murder where the consequence is a 'dead human being'. 

Most offences against the person are consequence crimes. Where the consequence is not directly caused by the defendant's action. 

Causation -


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