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

Explain the meaning of Actus reus and mens rea

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐CRIMINAL LAW Explain the meaning of actus reus Actus reus is the Latin term for a guilty act or the prohibited conduct. It must be a voluntary act as stated in Bratty v by Denning. An involuntary act is one done by the muscles without control of the mind or you may be concussed. Actus reus is all the external elements of a crime. Actus reus can also be an omission. The general rule is that there is no duty to act as stated by Stephens J when he said that there was no obligation to save a stranger from drowning, however there are exemptions. For example having a duty to act because of your contract as illustrated in R v Adomako where the anaesthetist failed to notice a detached oxygen tube and thus failed to carry out his contractual obligations; in R v Gibbons & Proctor it was held that there is a duty to look after your relatives (need not be blood related) where a father and step mother failed to care for their daughter/step daughter; in R v Stone and Dobinson it was held that where you take on responsibility for care then you have a duty to fulfil that care unlike in this case where Stone was held to have failed in his duty to look after his sick sister adequately after she moved into his home. ...read more.


Explain the principle of coincidence of actus reus and mens rea (Contemporaneity rule) It is a general principle that crimes require the actus reus and mens rea to occur at the same time for liability. For example for a battery the D must apply unlawful force and have intended it or been reckless at the time. However, there are certain situations where the actus reus and mens rea may not start at the same time. It has been held that provided during the course of events they do coincide then the crime exists. This was illustrated in Fagan v MPC where the D drove onto the policeman?s foot ? here we have the actus reus of battery but no mens rea as D did not realise, however, when he was asked to move he refused and so at this point he had the mens rea and as the actus reus was still continuing there was a coincidence. Another situation is where there is a series of events which the courts have held as one single transaction and if the mens rea was present at the outset or throughout most of the events then it is deemed a coincidence. This was illustrated in R v Thabo-Meli where the D thought he had killed the victim but actually killed her when he tried to get rid of the body as he had the plan to kill from the outset the acts were treated as one transaction to kill. ...read more.


so the junior doctor in Wilsher was held not to have caused the baby?s blindness as it was only one of six possible causes. Explain whether the damage was not too remote (ie reasonably foreseeable) The damage must not be too remote in that the type of damage must be reasonable foreseeable. In Wagon Mound it was held the damage was too remote as the sequence of events were not reasonably foreseeable i.e. that welder sparks would ignite a piece of cotton which would blow in the wind and land on some oil and then set it on fire. However, in Hughes v Lord Advocate it was held that as the type of damage was reasonably foreseeable (getting injured by a paraffin lamp) it did not matter if the sequence of events was not. The thin skull rule means that you are responsible for all the consequences of the damage on the person injured as in Smith v Leech Brain where an employee was burnt on the lip with molten metal which triggered a latent cancer from which he died. The factory was liable for the entire extent of the injuries. Assuming the D is negligent outline how the court will award damages to the claimant Outline the process of making a claim Outline the track and court that this case will be allocated Outline the routes of appeal from each track. ...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 Criminal Law 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 Criminal Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    English law does not normally impose liability for an omission or failure to act ...

    4 star(s)

    He awoke and saw that the cigarette had started a small fire. Upon seeing the fire, he then got up and went to another room and went back to sleep. The defendant had created a dangerous situation and owed a duty to call the fire brigade upon becoming aware of the fire.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Murder - Notes and Evaluation.

    4 star(s)

    redefining the point when life begins, which would possibly conflict with abortion laws. The Mens Rea of murder includes the intention to kill, but also the intention to cause G.B.H., and it can be debated as to whether the latter is enough.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Voluntary Manslaghter - Notes and Evaluation.

    3 star(s)

    An abnormality of the mind This is "a state of mind so different from that of ordinary human beings that the reasonable man would term it abnormal" (Byrne 1957). The Court of Appeal held that "abnormality of mind" is wide enough to cover: the perception of physical acts and

  2. Explain what is meant by the term 'causation' in criminal law and assess how ...

    Whilst the defendant?s act was not the factual cause, he was still guilty as it was his act that placed the victim in a brain dead state, which resulted in her life support being turned off and her death. This case shows how the courts look at the root cause

  1. 'Law should encourage citizens in their civic duty to do "the right thing" in ...

    shows the law is capable of excluding individuals from being liable in certain situations, thus encouraging people to do ?the right thing?. This is further reinforced by the fact that doctors are also excluded from criminal liability unless they are shown to have lacked competence or have fallen under the standard for competence, as shown in the case of Adomako.

  2. Omissions as actus reus

    A more modern example would be if a lifeguard left his post unattended to. His failure to leaving the post unattended could make him guilty of an offence if a swimmer had been injured or had drowned.

  1. Critically discuss the Labour Governments record of crime control since coming to power in ...

    This is partly from a growing disillusionment among influential policy-makers with the idea that crime can be controlled solely, or even principally, through the actions of the police and criminal justice system, and thus the BCS is further complemented by a variety of local surveys as well as a periodic

  2. Actus Reus and Mens Rea.

    Automatism resulting from self-induced intoxication is no excuse. 1. The accused must cause the prohibited consequences: The crime must be caused by some conduct by the accused. That conduct need not be a direct cause of the crime, but can be through the agency of others.

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