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Criminal liability is generally based on fault with the prosecution having to prove both actus reus and mens rea. Some criminal offences are crimes of strict liability. Briefly explain the meaning of these 3 terms.

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Introduction

Criminal liability is generally based on fault with the prosecution having to prove both actus reus and mens rea. Some criminal offences are crimes of strict liability. Briefly explain the meaning of these 3 terms. The actus reus is the physical element of a crime. The phrase itself is loosely translated as `the guilty act'. The actus reus however does not always have to be some one committing an act it could also be the failure to act (an omission). The actus reus of a crime may also be committed when a prohibited state of affairs exists. In some crimes it is also necessary to show more than an act or failure to act. What you also need to show is that specific consequences of an act occurred before the actus reus is proven. An example of the actus for a state of affairs which is when a defendant may commit the actus reus simply by being in a particular place when this state of affairs has been declared to be wrong - Larsonnneur (1993) and Winzar v Chief constable of Kent (1983) ...read more.

Middle

Where there is a duty to act under a contract - R v Pittwood (1902) 2. Where a duty exists because there is a special relationship between the parties - R v Gibbins and Proctor (1918) 3. Where a duty exists because the defendant has voluntarily accepted responsibility for another - R v Stone and Dobinson (1977) 4. Where the defendant has caused a dangerous situation and he has failed to put it right - R v Miller (1983) 5. Where a duty exists because of a persons public office - R v Dytham (1979) However in the case of a doctor if he failed to give medical treatment if the discontinuance of the treatment is in the patients best interest he will not have committed the actus reus. The mens rea is the mental element of a crime and if it is literally translated then it means guilty mind. The mens rea has got nothing to do with motive. Each crime will have an individual mens rea. In statutory offences the mens rea is often defined by words such as maliciously, intentionally, recklessly and wilfully. ...read more.

Conclusion

However R v G (2003) the house of lords decided that Cunningham recklessness will be used for all criminal offences. Gross negligence is the necessary mens rea for manslaughter as used in the case of R v Adomako. Strict liability is when a crime can be committed and then some one can be convicted without proof of mens rea. An example of this is Larsonneur (1933) where the defendant had no mens rea when committing the offence of `being an alien to whom leave to land in the UK had been refused.' She did not mean to commit this offence but had been brought to the UK against her will. Strict liability offences are in place to protect something or some one. Some examples of these are to protect the public from unfit food or protect children from buying teenagers and been taken in by gambling. They are used for thing such as the regulation of road traffic. It is left to the courts to decide if an offence is one of strict liability. To decide if a case is one of strict liability it must be decided if the case is truly criminal or regulatory and if it is then regulatory this then means it is strict liability. ...read more.

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