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"The general principle remains that a person is not guilty for omitting to do something." Discuss.

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Ayesha "The general principle remains that a person is not guilty for omitting to do something." Discuss. The law will punish someone if they are under a duty to act but omit to do so. It must be decided, however, whether in law you are dealing with an act or an omission. There are three types of situations where this question comes up; continuing acts, supervening faults, and euthanasia. In continuing acts the concept was used in the Fagan case (1969), where the defendant drove over the policeman's foot. At the time, the defendant did not have the mens rea for driving over the policeman's foot, which therefore, was an omission and not an act. He had the mens rea when he was on the foot and would not move. It was held that driving on the policeman's foot and staying there was a continuous act, followed by an omission, and during the continuous act the defendant had the mens rea, and was therefore liable. ...read more.


He did not try to put the fire out and just went into the next room and went back to sleep. He was charged with arson, as he did not make any attempt to put out the fire. Euthanasia is when a person assists another who is severely ill to die, by the ill person's request or by their own thinking of if they should live and be in pain or die and not be in pain. In NHS R V Bland (1993), Tony Bland, on the life support machine was severely injured. The decision in turning off the life support machine was seen as a n omission rather than an act. Some offences can be created by an omission, murder and manslaughter can be, but assault can't be, as in Fagan. An example of murder being an omission is in the case of R V Gibbons and Proctor (1918). ...read more.


The tenants died as a result of the gas boiler being broken and carbon monoxide leaking out. It was the landlord's duty to maintain all of the electrical appliances in the house. When somebody is assumed a duty of care, it is an omission, as in R V Stone and Dobinson (1977). The sister of Stone was living with him and his girlfriend and became anorexic and couldn't get out of bed. The couple started to look after her and tried to seek medical help, but couldn't. The girl then died as a result of starvation and because the couple started to look after her and then stopped they were charged with gross negligence manslaughter. To sum up, the four omissions are being under a contractual duty (Pittwood), being assumed a duty of care (Stone and Dobinson), being the creator of a peril (Miller) and having a parental duty (Gibbons and Proctor). When somebody has a duty, they must do that duty, and if they omit to do so, then they will be guilty of an offence. ...read more.

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