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Explain in detail what actus reus and the chain of causation actually means.

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Introduction

Explain in detail what actus reus and the chain of causation actually means. The term actus reus is Latin for 'the guilty act'. It is essential in criminal law, as actus reus must be there for their to be a criminal offence. It can mean a guilty act or an omission to act. In the crime of murder, then the actus reus would be the killing of a human being. The act must be voluntary for the defendant to be guilty. For example, if the defendant acts out of reflex because of another force, it is not voluntary and the defendant cannot be found guilty. A good example can be found in the case of Hill v Baxter (1958) where a driver is being chased by a swarm of bees and driving a car in these conditions would be extremely hard so could not be held guilty for his actions. If the defendant is to be found guilty of an offence then it is important to prove that the defendant caused the offence in the first place. ...read more.

Middle

He was found guilty of manslaughter as the result would not have happened 'but for' the actions of the defendant. To break the chain of causation it would take actions of a third party intervening, the victim's own contribution to the events or a natural and unforeseen event such as an earthquake. It is no excuse if the victim has a medical condition to that means that they are more susceptible to injuries. It is unlucky on the attacker but the actus reus is still there. Te defendant should 'take the victim as they find them' and this is known as the 'thin skull rule.' Explain in detail what is meant by the term mens rea. Discuss the different types of mens rea a defendant might have. Mens rea is Latin for 'the guilty mind.' For a defendant to be found guilty of a crime, it must be proven that the defendant had the guilty mind to commit the actus reus. The defendant can only be found guilty of a crime, when both the actus reus and the mens rea are present. ...read more.

Conclusion

An example of this is the R V Latimer (1886) case where Latimer attempted to strike his intended victim but missed and hit a woman nearby. She was seriously injured and he was held liable for the injury caused. The mens rea was transferred from his intended victim to his actual victim. Another type of mens rea is recklessness. It is the lower level of mens rea and is the taking of an unjustifiable risk. It is broken down into subjective recklessness and objective recklessness. Subjective recklessness is the taking of an unjustifiable risk when the defendant realises that there is a risk but still carries out the action. An example of this is the R V Cunningham 1957 case, where the defendant tore off a gas meter from his cellar wall to steal the money inside it. The gas leaked and drifted up through the next house and injured a woman. The defendant did nothing to stop the as leak. He was being reckless and realising that a possibility of harm may result. Objective recklessness is where an unjustifiable risk is taken but the defendant does not realise that there is a risk, but an ordinary reasonable man would recognise the risk. Law Essay Law Lee Kirby ...read more.

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