Actus Reus

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1. What is legal causation?

  • The defendant must be the cause in law of the consequence. R v Smith established the operating and substantial cause test.
  • The defendant must be the cause in law of the consequence. R v White established the operating and substantial cause test.
  • The defendant must be 'in fact' the cause of the consequence. R v Smith established the 'but for' test.
  • The defendant must be 'in fact' the cause of the consequence. R v White established the 'but for' test.
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2. What is the general rule of omissions?

  • A person CANNOT be guilty of an offence if they fail to act - Stephen's Digest of the Criminal Law (3rd Ed. 1887)
  • A person CAN be guilty of an offence if they fail to act - Stone v Dobinson

3. What are the 5 exceptions to the general rule of omissions with cases

  • Contractual duty - Pitwood, Because of a relationship - Stone and Dobinson, Taken on voluntarily - Gibbins and Proctos, Official position - Dytham, set in motion a series of events - Miller
  • Contractual duty - Pitwood, Because of a relationship - Gibbins v Proctor, Taken on voluntarily - Stone v Dobinson, Official position - Miller, set in motion a series of events - Dytham
  • A contractual duty - Pitwood, Because of a relationship - Gibbins and Proctor, Taken on voluntarily - Stone and Dobinson, Official position - Dytham, set in motion a series of events - Miller
  • Contractual duty - Pitwood, Because of a relationship - Gibbins v Proctor, Taken on voluntarily - Stone v Dobinson, Official position - Dytham, set in motion a series of events - Miller

4. What is a voluntary act?

  • Hill v Baxter - if D has committed the act or omission voluntarily, they do not have the mens rea.
  • Hill v Baxter - if the D has not committed the act or omission voluntarily, he has not committed the actus reus at all.
  • Collins v Wilcock - if D has committed the act or omission voluntarily they can not have the mens rea.

5. What is victims own act?

  • Unlikely to break the chain unless it is so potent in causing death that the D's acts are insignificant - R v Smith.
  • Where the act is of the victim, the chain of causation will not be broken unless the victim's actions are disproportionate or unreasonable in the circumstances - Roberts/Williams
  • If the D causes the V the act in an unforeseeable way, any injury will have been caused by the D - Roberts/Williams

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