You are on page 1of 3

_____________________________________________________________________ Muhammad Tanvir Hashem Munim 01730446367 Barrister at Law munim010@gmail.com Criminal Law Elements of an offence.

Lecture Note/ Chapter Summary ____________________________________________________________________

Lecture Note/Chapter Summary Elements of an offence


Actus Reus: This is the external or physical element of a crime. Mens rea: This is the internal or mental element of a crime. Actus Reus: Actus Reus are of four types: 1. Act or Conduct: For example, in case of murder the actus reus Unlawful Killing. 2. Omission: Generally, there is no duty to act. Therefore, duty can not arise for omission. However, in certain circumstances duty may arise: (a) Duty arising out of a contract (Pittwood (1902)). (b) Duty arising out of inadvertent creation of dangerous situation and after becoming aware of it failure in taking steps to rectify it (Miller (1983)). (c) Duty arising out of the relationship itself (Gibbins and Proctor (1918); Instan (1893)). (d) Duty arising out of voluntary assumption of duty (Nicholls (1875); Stone and Dobinson (1977)). (e) However, it is for the judge to determine whether a situation gives rise to a duty to act (Singh (Gurphal) (1999); Khan and Khan (1998)). 3. Surrounding Circumstances: For example, in case of murder the actus Reus reasonable creature in rerum natura. 4. Consequence: Meaning the result. For example, in case of murder, death. However, the word consequence denotes the term causation which means the fact that defendant caused the consequence. Causation: Causation are of two types: (a) Factual: It is determined by the but for test which states that the result would not have occurred but for the defendants conduct (white). (b) Legal: In this case the Judge will direct the Jury whether something is capable of being the legal cause according to the legal principles and the Jury will decide on the basis of what the Judge has told them. The legal principles to be noted are: Operating and Substantial Cause: The defendants conduct must be operating and substantial cause of the result but it does not have to be the main cause (Smith (1959)). Substantial means more _____________________________________________________________________ Muhammad Tanvir Hashem Munim 01730446367 Barrister at Law 1 munim010@gmail.com _____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________ Muhammad Tanvir Hashem Munim 01730446367 Barrister at Law munim010@gmail.com Criminal Law Elements of an offence. Lecture Note/ Chapter Summary ____________________________________________________________________ than minimum (Cato (1976)). Operating means whether the conduct spent its force when the consequence occurred (Smith). The result must be attributable to the culpable act: (Dalloway (1847)). The victim must be taken as found: (Blaue (1975)) Intervening causes: It must have to be observed that whether the chain of causation between the defendant and the victim has been broken due to any intervening act or not. Below are some illustrations: An act done instinctively for the purposed of self preservation will not break the chain of causation (Pagett (1983)). In case of escape cases, if the victims reaction was so daft/unreasonable as to make it the victims own voluntary act then the chain of causation will be taken as broken (Roberts (1971); Williams and Davis (1992)). If the victim dies as a result of fright then the defendant has to take his victim as he finds him (Hayward (1908)). Negligence by the victim does not break the chain of causation (Holland). Omission on part of the victim does not break the chain of causation where the result can be said to be attributable to the original injury (Dear (1996)). Generally, Doctors treatment does not break the chain of causation (Malcherek (1981); Cheshire (1991); Mckechnie (1991)). Doctors intervention may break the chain of causation if the treatment provided by the doctor is abnormal (Jordan (1956)). Acts of God/ Nature may break the chain of causation if reasonably foreseeable. Mens Rea: There are four types of mens rea: 1. Intention: This is of two types: Direct: The defendant intended the result and brought it about with his conduct. Indirect/Oblique: The judge will ask the jury that whether the defendant foresaw the consequence as virtual certainty, if he so _____________________________________________________________________ Muhammad Tanvir Hashem Munim 01730446367 Barrister at Law 2 munim010@gmail.com _____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________ Muhammad Tanvir Hashem Munim 01730446367 Barrister at Law munim010@gmail.com Criminal Law Elements of an offence. Lecture Note/ Chapter Summary ____________________________________________________________________ foresaw, then he would be taken as having the indirect intention to commit the crime (Woolin; Nedrick). Depending on intention, crimes can be categorised into three types: Basic intent crime: Offence which can be committed either intentionally or recklessly. For example, Criminal Damage contrary to Section 1(1) of Criminal Damage Act 1971. Specific intent crime: Offence which can only be committed intentionally. For example, Murder. Ulterior intent crime: where there is no corresponding actus reus for some ulterior or additional mens rea. For example, Burglary contrary to section 9 of Theft Act 1968.

2. Recklessness: It means unjustifiable risk taking. This is of two types: Subjective: The judge will ask the jury whether the defendant foresaw risk but nevertheless went to take the risk. If so, then he was subjectively reckless. Objective: The judge will ask the jury whether a reasonable person would have taken the risk. If not, then the defendant was objectively reckless. Presently, almost all the crimes which can be committed recklessly require subjective recklessness. 3. Negligence: A person is negligent if he is unaware of the risk in question but ought to have been aware of it or having foreseen it he does take steps to avoid it but those steps fall below the standard or conduct which would be expected of a reasonable person. Crimes that can be committed through negligence: gross negligence manslaughter (Adomako (1995)). 4. Knowledge: Knowledge can be a mens rea. For example, in relation to theft a defendant has to know that he is stealing a property. However, in most case it is presumed to be so.

Transferred malice: Malice can be transferred when the defendant intending to kill A, mistakenly or accidentally killed B (Latimer (1886)). However, it does not apply when the consequence achieved is not that which was intended (Pembliton (1974)). Strict liability offence: A strict liability offence may be described as an offence where, in relation to one or more elements of the actus reus no mens rea needs to be proved in order to secure a conviction. _____________________________________________________________________ Muhammad Tanvir Hashem Munim 01730446367 Barrister at Law 3 munim010@gmail.com _____________________________________________________________________