Foundations and Responsibility

What is Actus Reus?
Physical doing of an event. e.g. Punching someone= battery
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What is Mens Rea?
What is going on in someone's mind
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How can you be potentially liable?
Must have both actus rea and mens rea and also demonstrate a lack of defence.
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What are the principles of law?
Not a set of rules, a set of principles which help evaluate proposed and legal advice.
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Principle of individual autonomy
People are autonomous beings who should be treated as such
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Principle of fair labelling
does the label of the crime fairly describe the behaviour?
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What are the two tests of causation?
Factual causation- 'but for'. Legal causation- is D the cause of harm in question? LC depends on the context of the situation, may not be a direct consequence of D.
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What is a useful case for testing factual causation?
R v White [1910]
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Principle of maximum certainty
State should define criminal offences with utmost clarity to avoid injustice. Every citizen is presumed to know the law and if the law is not defined with maximum certainty then there is no fair warning for citizens.
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How do 'natural events' affect causation?
if an intervening natural event was foreseeable e.g. knocking someone out on a beach, tide comes in, they drown, then causation is attributed to you
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What if a 'natural event' is unforeseeable?
Causation should not be attributed to you
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What is a helpful case for studying third party interventions?
R v Cheshire [1991]
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What is the principle of contemporaneity?
AR and MR should occur simultaneously
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In cases of drug administration, are dealers held responsible if their client self injects and dies?
Not usually
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What is the principle of autonomy and what does it mean here?
Means making decisions for oneself, here it means self-administering drugs. However, if someone is addicted to drugs can this still be seen as autonomous?
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What is the 'Thin skull rule'?
The idea that some people's skulls are 'thinner' than others, therefore if someone causes harm to someone with a 'thin skull' they are liable for all damages they cause, even if elevated beyond normal damages.
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What is an omission?
Unless you are in a position of duty or care, you could walk past someone in need e.g. drowning, and not be legally obligated to do anything
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What is an example of someone who does have a duty/care?
A doctor- patient, therefore an omission here could result in liability
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What is a good case for showing the assumption or responsibility?
R v Gibbons and Proctor
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In assumptions of responsibility, what does R v Stone and Dobison [1977] suggest?
If you don't have to help, don't, you make yourself liable by assuming responsiblity
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What does R v Miller [1983] suggest?
Could he have intended for a fire? (Principle of contemporaneity)
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What is the Duty/responsibility theory?
individuals are accountable for fulfilling their civic duty; the actions of an individual must benefit the whole of society. ... If this equilibrium is maintained, then social responsibility is accomplished.
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What is the Continuous Act theory?
Omission (law) An omission is a failure to act, which generally attracts different legal consequences from positive conduct. In the criminal law, an omission will constitute an actus reus and give rise to liability only when the law imposes a duty to
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What is voluntary conduct?
Whether you are fully in control of your actions. If you are unconscious, liability may not follow.
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What do you need in order to rely on automatism?
Must suffer a complete loss of voluntary control. Be caused by an external factor, Mustn't be at fault of losing capacity.
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Why is mens rea important?
Principle of autonomy, punishment for foresight of our actions, punishment for consequences of our actions
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What role does intention play in criminal law?
Helps us to recognise the severity of a particular wrong. Helps us label offenders appropriately (principle of fair labelling). Helps us to determine culpability. Typically associated with more serious crimes e.g. murder
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How is intention defined?
Direct intention and Indirect/ oblique intention
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What is Direct intention?
Intention as a desire/wish.
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What is indirect/ oblique intention?
Not wanting to bring about that particular outcome, acting for other reasons. e.g. putting a bomb on plane to claim insurance but killing people in the process, when it was known to be likely
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When it comes to intention, what is a good case to examine its history?
Hyam [1975] (in handout), Moloney [1985]
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What do 'natural consequences' mean in this context?
Intention can be found also indirectly, when death or really serious injury is a natural consequence of D's act. But 'Natural consequence' is vague- doesn't give jury much to work with, almost actus reus.
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What is a good case for examining 'natural consequence'?
Hanckock and Shankland [1986]
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What are the definitions of recklessness?
Objective- what should the defendant have thought about? Subjective- What did the particular defendant realise?
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What is the Cunningham test? (subjective(?))
D was reckless if: He took an unjustified risk AND was aware of the existence of that unjustified risk
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to whom must the risk be obvious?
The ordinary person, D if he had stopped and thought
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What is the Caldwell test? (objective)
He did an act creating an obvious risk either without giving thought to that risk or whilst recognising the obvious risk involved
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What are the problems of Caldwell test?
Different tests for different offences, What if D foresees a problem the ordinary person wouldn't?, doesn't appear to require any blameworthiness, principle of mens rea- ideally out to be objective
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is there a loophole?
Caldwell: (a) would be reckless if hadn't thought or recognised (b) that had recognised some risk but gone on to do it anyway
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What is Mens Rea?


What is going on in someone's mind

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How can you be potentially liable?


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Card 4


What are the principles of law?


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Principle of individual autonomy


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