Criminal law revision

  • Created by: Katie
  • Created on: 11-01-14 16:09

Actus Reus

DEF: the physical act required to commit a crime

1.)-must be voluntary

2.)-cannot usually be commited by ommision(not doing something) however,there are exceptions (see later)

3.)- D must cause a particular outcome


- If D does not will the act then he can not have committed the actus reus

-   A person having a fit does not will the movement of his limbs

-  Hill V Baxter judge gave an example of a swarm of bees entering his veichle 


there are few crimes that can be commited by ommisions, these are:

- Failure to Act- duties arising from statute, for example children and young persons act and the Road Traffic Act child neglect and careless driving can be used as examples here.

- Duty to limit damage caused by an accident, in R V Miller, D set fire to a building accidently, he saw the fire but went to another room to sleep. He had a duty to try and stop the spread of the fire and so was found guilty

-Contractual duty e.g contract of employment as seen  in R V Pitwood  where a railway employee failed to close a gate at a level crossing, this was in his contract of employment as his job and as he failed to do this he was responsible for the train crash

-Duties voluntarily undertaken, as in R v stone and Dobinson where D allowed his anorexic sister to come and live with him, she refused to eat and became bed ridden while D did nothing, D was guilty because he had voluntarily undertaken a duty of care and had an obligation to call a doctor, which he of course did not.

-Professional duties, Doctors have a duty to preserve life and policemen have a duty to prevent and combat crime.

3.) D must cause type of harm both in law and in fact

Causation in fact (the "but for" test)

- "but for" D's act the victim would not have died at that moment in time or suffered the injury. Case= R v White where a son plans to poison his mother by spiking


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