• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Law of Tort section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Law of Tort essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Taking selected areas of the civil and or criminal law, evaluate whether sportsmen and ...

    4 star(s)

    If reasonable care has been taken to look after the spectators it is unlikely a claim could be made. Nowadays so much extra care is taken at a football match for the safety of the spectators there is more likelihood of a spectator being at more risk when outside as

  2. Marked by a teacher

    What is the meaning of intention in English criminal law? Is it always possible ...

    3 star(s)

    will not think he has failed if the person survives.3 Thus the defendant's true 'purpose' in acting may be more easily discovered. In Steane [1947], the defendant had been compelled, through concern for the sake of his family, to make broadcasts for the enemy during the Second World War, and

  1. Gross negligence and recklessness.

    culpability between the defendant who adverts to a risk and the one that does not. Secondly, he suggested that it was not a practicable distinction for use in a jury trial. The answer to the first seems to be that moral philosophy clearly draws a distinction between the deliberate risk-taker

  2. The terms Actus Reus and Mens Rea

    This view is supported by Lord Reid's dictum in the Thabo Meli v R.2 case: "It is said that the mens rea necessary to establish murder is the intention to kill, and that there could be no intention to kill when the accused thought the man was already dead, so

  1. Using actual situations, describe the elements of actus reus and mens rea in criminal ...

    In Oxford v. Moss (1979) a student removed an examination paper, photocopied it and then replaced the original paper and was subsequently charged with theft.

  2. What is the meaning of intention in English criminal law? Is it always possible ...

    In this sense, in Cunliffe v Goodman [1950], Lord Asquith stated that the 'core' sense of intention "connotes a state of affairs which the party 'intending' ... does more than merely contemplate: it connotes a state of affairs which, on the contrary, he decides, so far as in him lies, to bring about".

  1. Criminal liability is generally based on fault with the prosecution having to prove both ...

    However parliament can create statutory crimes under which a person can commit the actus reus by failing to act e.g. s.6 Road Traffic Act 1988. There are also exceptions to this rule so that if a person is under a duty to act then a failure to act would make them criminally liable.

  2. In this report, the differences between contractual liability and tortuous liability are explained. In ...

    Maintenance of safe access and egress to the workplace 3. Safe use, handling and storage of dangerous substances 4. Adequate training of staff to ensure health and safety 5. Adequate welfare provisions for staff at work. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 The Management of Health and

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work