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Briefly Explain The Meaning Of These Terms: Actus Reus And Mens Rea

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Briefly Explain The Meaning Of These Terms: Actus Reus And Mens Rea Actus Reus means the 'guilty act' this must be voluntary. For example if a swarm of bees enter a car window and the drivers swerves, injuring someone, then he will not be liable because it wasn't voluntary. The Actus Reus may be an act, a failure to act or a state of affairs. The act may be direct or indirect action. Examples of a direct act could be battery or rape where the defendant makes contact with the claimant. An example of an indirect act could be where somebody shoots another, for this they would need to establish a chain of causation; to decide that pulling the trigger led to the claimant's injury. ...read more.


For example if you see someone drowning, failing to rescue them will not result in you being liable, however, if you are a lifeguard it is your contractual responsibility to act and save them. A state of affairs is being in a particular state or place, which makes you automatically liable for the offence. For example being drunk on a public highway makes you automatically liable for the offence. Mens Rea is the guilty state of mind and refers to the intention element of a crime. The level of blameworthiness varies from crime to crime; there is intention, recklessness, and negligence. Mens Rea can mean on purpose or deliberately, although it is much broader than the layperson realises because it can also mean the person knowingly or maliciously caused the event. ...read more.


Recklessness is another type of Mens Rea needed to prove a defendant to be guilty of certain crimes. The defendant is aware of an unjustifiable risk occurring as a result of their actions yet still carry on. There are two types of recklessness, Caldwell and Cunningham. Cunningham (or subjective) recklessness can be defined in the case of R v Cunningham where the defendant broke into a house to steal money from the gas meter and was charged with "maliciously administering a noxious thing as so to endanger life." The defendant realised there was a risk of harming someone yet still carried on. The third type of Mens Rea is negligence; this is where the defendant has acted carelessly resulting in damage or injury occurring. There are only a few examples of this but they included driving offences and manslaughter. ...read more.

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