Actus Reus- Omissions

  • Created by: Marie
  • Created on: 26-03-13 15:31

The AR= the physical element of a crime. It can be:

  • an ACT
  • a failure to act (an OMISSION)
  • a 'STATE OF AFFAIRS'- very rare

Voluntary nature of AR= the act or omission must be voluntary on the part of the D, so no control means no AR (HILL V BAXTER 1958- driver loses control of his vehicle if stung by bees, hit on head with stone, heart attack whilst driving...) Involuntary act= where the D hits another person because of a reflex action/spasm, or pushing a second person which causes them to bump into a third person (MITCHELL 1983). Absence of fault= no liability.

'State of affairs' cases= Rare instances in which the D is convicted even though he did not act voluntarily. LARSONNEUR 1933- brought to England from Ireland against her will by the Police and was arrested for being 'an alien to whom leave to land in the UK had been refused.

Consequence of AR= For some crimes the AR must also result in a consequence, for example in the offence of assault occasioning ABH (s47 OAPA 1981). The AR is the application or threat of unlawful force but there must also be a consequence of ABH (some injury to the V). Without this consequence there can be no s 47 offence.

Omissions=  Normal rule is that an omission cannot make a person guilty of an offence- "A sees B drowning and is able to save him by holding out his hand. A abstains from doing so in order that B may be drowned. A has committed no offence". (Stephen J) England has no 'Good Samaritan' law, unlike France (seen when Princess Diana's car crashed in Paris and journalists did not help her). Problems with enforcing such a law= what if a 'rogue' pretends to be injured in order to lure a stranger to his assistance so that he can rob him? A risk that an untrained person could do more harm than good by intervening. What is an 'emergency' situation- who decides? What if several people witness the incident- do all of them have to help- if one helps, are the others still under a duty to help? Would rescuers have to opt themselves at risk in order to help? It seems unlikely that the law would require this- MILLER 1983- a D who has created the risk need only take reasonable steps and would not be expected to put himself at risk- surely the same would apply to passers-by?

  • Exceptions to the rule= In some cases it is possible for an omission to be the AR, but only where there is a DUTY TO ACT. There are SIX WAYS:

1. A statutory duty= an Act of P can create liabilty for an omission. Examples= failing to stop or report a road traffic accident (s 170 Road Traffic Act


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