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2 - Elements of Crimes

2 - Elements of Crimes

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07/10/2013

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Lecture 3: Elements of Crimes (October 22
nd
.)The conditions require for liability of a crime are sometimes called the elements of a crime. If you takeany crime, you can normally break it down into a number of elements or conditions for liability.Generally broken down into 2 headings
-
 Actus Reus
(physical
or extern
al
e
l
ement
s
of t
h
e offen
c
e/
p
ro
hibi
ted
ac
t)
 
-
Mens Rea
(
ment
al
e
l
ement/f 
aul
t e
l
ement/
culpabili
t
y
req
ui
rement)
 
S
ome starting points
- We¶
ll
 
s
ee t
h
e
y
¶re
a
 
la
rge n
u
m
b
er of offen
c
e
s
 
i
n Eng
lish
 
law
of 
s
o
call
ed
s
tr 
ic
t
liabili
t
y.
 W
ha
t t
ha
t me
a
n
s
 
is
t
ha
t t
h
e
s
e
a
re offen
c
e
s
 
which
do not req
ui
re
m
ensrea
or f 
aul
t
i
nre
la
t
i
on to one or more e
l
ement
s
of t
h
e
actusreus
.
 
o
T
h
e offen
c
e of 
sp
eed
i
ng
i
n
a
motor ve
hicl
e
.
T
h
e
actusreus
of t
ha
t
is
dr 
i
v
i
ng
a
 motor ve
hicl
e
i
n ex
c
e
ss
of t
h
e re
l
ev
a
nt
sp
eed
li
m
i
t
.
It¶
s
 
a
n offen
c
e of 
s
tr 
ic
t
liabili
t
y
 
i
n t
h
e
s
en
s
e t
ha
t
i
t doe
s
n¶t req
ui
re
y
o
u
to kno
w
 
y
o
u
 
w
ere ex
c
eed
i
ng t
h
e
sp
eed
li
m
i
t
.
It¶
s
eno
u
g
h
 
y
o
u
 
w
ere
cau
g
h
t do
i
ng
s
o
.
It
is
no defen
c
e t
ha
t
y
o
u
d
i
dn¶t
s
eet
h
e re
l
ev
a
nt
si
gn or 
y
o
u
m
is
re
a
d
i
t
.
So
liabili
t
y
 
is
 
s
tr 
ic
t
i
n t
ha
t
s
en
s
e
.
 - T
h
ere
a
re
c
ert
ai
n
c
i
me
s
 
which
 
a
re te
ch
n
ically
 
s
tr 
ic
t
liabili
t
y
 
c
i
me
s
 
bu
t
c
ert
ai
n e
l
ement
s
 of t
h
e
actusreus
i
m
plici
t
ly
 
i
n
c
or 
p
or 
a
te
s
ome ment
al
e
l
ement
s
 
o
S
upp
o
s
e
y
o
u
¶re
a
 
sh
o
p
kee
p
er 
a
nd
y
o
u
¶re
cha
rged
wi
t
h
 
s
e
lli
ng food
u
nf 
i
t for 
hu
m
a
n
c
on
su
m
p
t
i
on
.
T
ha
s
 
ac
t
ually
 
a
g
ai
n
a
 
s
tr 
ic
t
liabili
t
y
offen
c
e
.
So
i
t
is
not
a
 defen
c
e
i
y
o
u
d
i
dn¶t kno
w
t
h
e food
was
 
u
nf 
i
t
.
Ho
w
ever, t
his
doe
s
req
ui
re
y
o
u
to
s
e
ll.
And t
h
e not
i
on of 
s
e
lli
ng
su
gge
s
t
s
t
ha
t
y
o
u
 
ha
ve to
ha
ve
a
n
i
ntent
i
on to enter 
i
nto
a
 
l
eg
al
tr 
a
n
sac
t
i
on for 
sal
e
.
And
i
ntent
i
on to
pass
 
l
eg
al
t
i
t
l
e
o
We¶
ll
 
s
ee t
h
ere
a
re ot
h
er offen
c
e
s
of t
his
t
yp
e
.
E
.
g
.
 
law
of t
h
eft
.
One of t
h
e
actusreus
e
l
ement
s
 
is
t
ha
t of 
app
ro
p
ia
t
i
ng
p
ro
p
ert
y.
We
ll
t
ha
t not
i
on of 
app
ro
p
ia
t
i
on doe
s
 
ca
rr 
y
 
s
ome
c
onnot
a
t
i
on t
ha
t
y
o
u
 
i
ntend to tre
a
t
s
omeonee
ls
s
 
p
ro
p
ert
y
 
as
 
y
o
u
w
on
(
A
):
ACTUSREUS
(
THE
PHYSICAL
OR
EXTERNAL
ELEMENTS OF AN OFFENCE
)(
I
)
CRIMINAL CONDUCT
:
ACTS AND OMISSIONS
 
M
ost crimes require the defendant to do some kind of positive act, but some offences can becommitted where the defendant failed to act when he had a duty to do so.
M
ost of the reported casesconcern possible liability for murder or manslaughter where the defendants failure to act has resultedin death, but liability for omission is by no means restricted to homicide cases.In general, crimes can be broadly divided into 2 groups here:
- P
u
re Om
issi
on
s;
T
his
refer 
s
to
a
n
u
m
b
er of 
s
t
a
t
u
tor 
y
 
c
i
me
s
 
which
t
ypically
 
c
on
sis
t of D
aili
ng to
p
rov
i
de
i
nform
a
t
i
on
wh
en req
ui
red to do
s
o
.
E
.
g
.
 
u
nder t
h
e t
a
x
l
eg
isla
t
i
on,
w
e
ha
ve d
u
t
i
e
s
to f 
il
e
a
t
a
x ret
u
rn
i
f req
ui
red to do
s
o
by
t
h
e
i
n
la
nd reven
u
e
a
nd
i
t
is
 
a
noffen
c
e to f 
ail
to do
s
o
wh
en req
ui
red
.
Note t
ha
t m
a
n
y
of t
h
e
s
e offen
c
e
s
 
a
re
c
i
me
s
of 
s
tr 
ic
t
liabili
t
y.
 
 
- Cr 
i
me
s
 
c
omm
i
tted
by
e
i
t
h
er 
a
 
p
o
si
t
i
ve
ac
t, or 
a
n om
issi
on
wh
en
u
nder 
a
d
u
t
y
to
ac
t
;
T
h
eformer de
sc
ib
e
s
t
h
e
bul
k of 
c
i
me
s
 
a
nd
is
q
ui
te
s
tr 
ai
g
h
tfor 
wa
rd
.
W
i
t
h
reg
a
rd
s
to t
h
e
la
tter, t
h
e
bul
k of t
h
e re
p
orted
cas
e
s
 
c
on
si
der 
h
om
ici
de, m
u
rder, or m
a
n
slau
g
h
ter 
bu
t t
h
e
c
on
c
e
p
t
is
not re
s
tr 
ic
ted to t
h
o
s
e
cas
e
s.
To g
i
ve
a
gener 
al
ex
a
m
pl
e,
h
om
ici
de
is
to do
wi
t
h
 
u
n
law
ul
k
illi
ng
.
Yo
u
 
ca
n k
ill
 
s
omeone e
i
t
h
er of 
c
o
u
s
e
by
 
a
 
p
o
si
t
i
ve
ac
t
(sh
oot
i
ng/
s
t
abbi
ng)
bu
t
als
o
by
aili
ngto
ac
t
.
E
.
g
.
 
y
o
u
 
ca
n k
ill
 
a
 
chil
d
by
aili
ng to feed
i
t
.
 
Example of a non-homicide case where the
 Actus Reus
of the offence consists of an omission
*Miller [1983] 2 AC 161
 Here, D convicted of arson of a house. He had been squatting in this house as a vagrant one night hedgone to sleep on a mattress smoking a cigarette and he woke up sometime later feeling fairly warm anddiscovered the mattress underneath him was on fire, presumably having dropped the cigarette, millersimply moved to another room to another mattress and went to sleep, to be woken up a second time bythe fire brigade and the whole house on fire.The crime of arson is defined as causing damage to property by fire either intentionally or recklessly.
M
iller hadnt intentionally set fire to the house clearly but the HL held that when he woke up the firsttime and realised his cigarette had started a fire on the mattress, he then became under a legal duty totake steps to remedy the dangerous situation that he had created. He failed to do so.
S
o he failed todischarge this legal duty and as aresult the house had been damaged by fire. HL took the view that hisconduct was reckless given that he knew of the situation he created.The element of duty is crucial in omissions cases. Its an elementary proposition that theres no liabilityfor an omission in English law in the absence of a duty to act. Theres a famous example in all thetextbooks of a hypothetical situation where you have a child drowning ina shallow pool of water andtheres a bunch of able bodied adults standing around watching. None of them have a duty to act unlessyou can show that any one of them had a duty to act to save the child.The sources of duty to act in English law for the purpose of criminal liability are relatively limited.Quick summary of the sources of a duty to act; there are certain special relationships which English lawrecognises as giving rise to duties. Of which the most important is parent and child.
S
o if one of the ablebodied adults is the childs parent, then the parent certainly has a legal duty to rescue the child. Thatsbeen recognised in the CL for centuries.Its also probably the case that spouses and civil partners owe legal duties to each other to provide thenecessities of life if the other is not capable of providing for themselves.
S
o if its the wife drowninginthe pool because she cant swim and the husband is by the side, he almost certainly has a legal duty torescue her.
S
o special relationships will give rise to duties.The cases also suggest that if you expressly assume responsibility for the welfare of someone else, thatll
 
create a duty upon you.E.g. if a grandparent takes responsibility for a child because the parents havedied, it is almost certain again therell be legal duty upon the grandparent to provide for child.You can also have U can also have implied assumptions of responsibility where the law will look at whatyouve done in relation to a vulnerable individual who cant look after themselves and may say youveimpliedly undertaken responsibility by virtue of your act
*Stone and Dobinson [1977] QB 354
This is the leading case which illustrates the notion of an implied assumption of responsibility. The caseis somewhat controversial in that it is unclear whether the principle was applied fairly to the specificdefendants but nonetheless, the doctrine seems to be reasonable clear.
S
tone and his mistress agreed to care for his sister who was suffering from anorexia. As her conditiondeteriorated, she became bed-ridden but no help was summoned and she died. They were convicted of her manslaughter because they had accepted her into their home and so assumed a duty of care for herThe other situation as a source of duty is the kind of principle recognised in
Mill 
er 
; if you create adangerous situation then you may be under a duty to take steps to remedy the situation. E.g. if one of the adults had pushed the child into the river, then under
Mill 
er 
that adult has a duty to rescue the childgiven that he or she has created the dangerous situation.There are two further points on acts and omissions
1
.
To em
phasis
e t
ha
t t
h
ere¶
s
no gener 
al
d
u
t
y
to t
a
ke
p
o
si
t
i
ve
ac
t
i
on
i
n Eng
lish
 
law\
 2
.
To em
phasis
e t
ha
t t
h
e
s
o
u
c
e
s
of d
u
t
y
 
a
re
li
m
i
ted
This is in contrast to many of the criminal codes of continental Europe where you do find general dutiesof rescue. French law for instance has one and so do many continental countries.What those do is tomake it a separate offence to fail to give assistance.
S
o if you dont help someone and they diedyouwouldnt be liable for homicide but the separate offence.The other point to make is that sometimes courts can impose liability for what seems like omissions byreinterpreting the conduct as a kind of continuing act
agan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1969] 1 QB 439
A motorist was signalled to pull into the kerb by the officer who suspected a road traffic offence.
M
otorists did so but parked one of the wheels on the constables foot. He was requested to move it. Heremained sitting inthe car and didnt move for a minute or 2 despite a further request to move it. Hewas charged with assaulting a police officer inthe he execution of his duty.D tried to argue that the initial parking of the car on his foot was an accident and all that had happened

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