criminal law assignment one legal principlestask one key words:Mens Rea: a intention to commit a offence, this relates to the mind of the offender.Actus Rea: the committing of the crime making it a guilty act Novus Actus: action or event that ‘intervenes’ to break a chain of events. omission omiision means a failure to act if they are legally bound to but neglects to do so. there are 5 ways in which a omission could be caused;1) duty arising from a statute. there are particular lesiglations that make it a offence to not act to prevent a crime and also to not report a crime. The most common are Terrorism act (2000) it is against the law to not report or to conceal suspicious terrorism activity.
Childrens and young persons act (1933) the wilful neglect of a child. Road traffic act (1988) refusing to provide a breathe sample if requested to do so by a officer. One famous case, R v Dytham (1979), a police officer was charged with negligence to preform his duties by keeping the peace within the public. A civilian was kicked to death by a bouncer and Dytham stood by while this happened because he was off duty. This was a omission on the defendants behalf. 2) where a person is bound by contract: when talking about a contract it would seem that this would fall into the category of Tort Law but sometimes it can fall into Criminal Law too but for this to happen a omission must be proved by either negligence or intention.
R v Pittwood (1902) the defendant was employed by a railway company to man the gate at a level crossing. He went to lunch and had accidentally left the gate up, as a result a train collided with a horse and cart killing one person and injuring others. The defendant was found guilty of breaking a contractual agreement and the act had caused Actus Reas.
Another example of a contactual responsibility is if you are paid to look after a child. 3) Duty arising from a commission of fault:When somebody causes a situation but does not mean any Mens Rea they still must be held accountable if they do not act to prevent or stop the situation from escalating and becoming a unlawful act by negligence. R v Miller (1983) the defendant Miller was staying at a friends house and was smoking a cigarette when he fell asleep, he awoke and saw that the cigarette had started a small fire but instead of calling a fire brigade he went into another room and had gone back to sleep. The defendant had created a dangerous situation and because he knew about the fire he was liable for his omission.
4) voluntary responsibility: when a person decides to take care of a vulnerable relative it is called voluntary responsibility and the carers have a duty of care to that relative. R v Stone and Dobson (1977) the defendants had severe learning difficulties but decided to take in and look after Stones sister, Fanny, who also had learning difficulties and was suffering from a eating disorder called anorexia. Fanny had refused to eat food and after some time she died in what was described as appalling conditions. Both defendants was sound guilty of a omission because they failed to get Fanny the medical attention she needed and and was ultimately liable for her death. 5) Duty arising from a relation.
Every parent has duty to look after their child and failure to do so is a criminal conviction. Gibbons and Proctor (1918) the defendants stopped feeding Gibbons 7 year old daughter and as a result she died, this was a omission because had a duty to protect their child and the defendants was charged with gross negligence manslaughter. causation:This is to prove that without a defendants actions the cause of the outcome would have been different. “the accused need not be the sole or even the main cause of the harm or even victims death but it must be a significant cause of the result.
” There are two types of causations the first is factual causation and this means knowing by fact that someone had caused the Actus Reas. Secondly is Legal Causation and this is legally having to prove a defendant had been the cause of the crime. A causation can be effected by a intervention and is described as ‘breaking the chain’ of a defendants act, this is also called Novus Actus. R v Kennedy (1999) proved a difficult case when proving causation. Kennedy had prepared a syringe of heroin for Mr Bosque, who had been drinking that night, and said to him ‘if you take it strait away you will have a longer sleep than intended’. Bosque injected himself after Kennedy had left the apartment and as a result Bosque died.
Kennedy was later charged with manslaughter of Bosque but on appeal he was later cleared of murder because the victim had injected the drugs himself so the chain of causation was broken. R v Jordan (1956) the doctors act was a intervening act and broke the chain of causation because the victim had been given a large dose of drugs that the hospital knew the victim was allergic to and therefor the victim had died as a result during a hospital stay, However in comparison in R v Smith (1959) the doctors were acting to save the victims life and although the hospitals care may have not been the best the victim would not have need to have had surgery had the defendant not caused him serious injury resulting in the victim needing surgery in the first place.Recklessness:when a defendant is aware and takes a unjustified risk this is known as recklessness. R v Cunnigham (1957) the defendant ripped a gas meter off the wall in order to steal the money from the meter, gas then escaped and as a result the victim was poisoned.
the defendant was charged with recklessness because he knew that a particular kind of harm may have been caused but, regardless too the risk anyway. A similar case where Mens Rea was proven due to recklessness was R v Gemmell and Richards when they had set fire to newspapers that had spread to a bin and then the shop and caused 1million pounds worth of damage. the courts held the view that this was reckless behaviour because the defendants knew that this could have caused more damage but followed though with the act anyway. Task two A.B.C.