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Definitions of Actus reus, mens rea & strict liability

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Introduction

Definitions of: Actus Reus \ Mens Rea \ Strict Liability: Actus Reus Actus Reus is the physical element of a crime (guilty act), in criminal cases the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed an Actus Reus and had the Mens Rea (guilty mind) at the same time. An Actus Reus consist more than just a crime, it also has of whatever circumstances and consequences are required for the offence in question. The crimes can be divided into two categories: The first category is the conduct crime where the Actus Reus is the prohibited act itself, for example the Actus Reus of the offence dangerous driving is ''driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public places (S2 RTA 1988), no harm or consequence of that dangerous driving needs to be established. Another example is blackmailing. The second category is the result crimes, those are where Actus Reus is defined in terms of prohibited consequences, irrespective of these are brought about, for example causing death (murder) ...read more.

Middle

These crimes are defined not in the sense of the defendant doing a positive act but consisting in the defendant "being found", "being in possession" or "being in charge'', in cases all the prosecution needs to prove are the existence of the factual circumstances which constitute the crime, I.E R v Larsonneur 1993 Causation The prosecution must prove that it was the defendant's conduct which caused that result to happen, for example in murder the prosecution must prove that the victim died, in S18 of the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) 1861 the victim was wounded or caused GBH and in criminal damage the property was destroyed or damaged. There are to types of causation: 1- Causation in fact - for which the ''but for'' Test is used. Cases >> R v Pagett, R v White. 2- Causation in law - where more than one factor contributed to the consequence (R v Smith). Medical treatment does not usually break the chains, one exception is the case of R v Jordan. Mens Rea Mens Rea is the mental element of a crime, the guilty state of mind. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mens Rea can't be transferred for a different Actus Reus as shown by Pembliton, where the defendant threw a stone at another person during an argument, but the stone missed the intended victim, instead it broke a nearby window. Strict Liability Strict liability are those crimes where the defendant will be find guilty because he did the Actus Reus, there is not Mens Rea needed. An example of this is the case of Winzar v Chief Constable for Kent, this was where the police were called the remove a drunken man from a hospital. Many Strict liability offences are not truly criminal behaviour but they are treated as offences so as to prevent potential danger to public Health & Safety, I.E causing pollution, driving a vehicle with dangerous brakes or selling contaminated food, these come under the same heading. Some offences which can be punished by imprisonment are not strict liability offences, because that is unfair to put people in prison when they don't have the intention of committing a crime, but some crimes which do carry a possible penalty of imprisonment are strict liability offences, I.E the case of Pharmaceutical Society of Great Brittain v Storkwain. Ferough Hamed. ...read more.

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