AQA AS Law- Concepts of Liability; an introduction to Criminal Law


AQA AS Law- Concepts of Liability; an introduction to Criminal Law

·         Actus Reus

·         Omissions

Actus Reus

All Crimes have two elements which must be proved for a defendant to be guilty. These are:

-          Physical (Actus Reus)

-          Mental (Mens Rea)

In this section, we will be covering Actus Reus, the physical element to any crime.

“The Actus Reus of each offence is defined separately for each offence as either a ‘positive voluntary act’, a ‘failure to act’ (an ‘omission), a ‘state of affairs’ or some combination of these.

The simplest case is where the Actus Reus is a ‘positive voluntary act’. This means the act must be voluntary on the part of the defendant i.e. it must be freely willed. If a defendant act involuntarily (not freely willed), the Actus Reus of the offence may not be established/proved and therefore D is not guilty.

Omissions as Actus Reus

An omission means a failure to act! The general principle in criminal law is that liability for omissions is the exception, rather than the rule.

The exceptions to the general rule are where D is under:-


(R v Stone and Dobinson- elderly sister in law very ill- anorexia nervosa. Defendants did not feed her, she developed bed sores and then later died from infection. Defendants did not give her any medical help and they were found guilty of gross


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