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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Law
  • Word count: 1884

Law of Homicide

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EXPLAIN THE ELEMENTS OF actus reus and mens rea IN THE LAW OF HOMICIDE? Actus Reus is a term used in criminal law and is Latin for "guilty act". Literally the Latin phrase means bad act. The actus reus is the act which, in combination with a certain mental state, such as intent or recklessness, constitutes a crimes. For example, the crime of theft (Theft Act 1968) requires appropriation of property taking something belonging to another (actus reus). Coupled with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the object. This is the (mens rea) which means guilty act in Latin. The phrase "actus reus" denotes one of the elements the must be proven by the prosecution before anyone can be liable for criminal punishment. A murder statue for example, typically prohibits the "killing of a human being". So without the "actus reus" there can be no criminal liability. The R v Lewis 1971 case concerned the victim who broke her legs by jumping of the windows when her husband threatened to hurt her if she did not open the door. So she jumped of the 3rd floor window to escape from him because she knew that if she opens the door she was going to get beaten as usual. So when they took this to court the man was found guilty of grievous bodily harm under S.18 of the Offence Against the Person Act 1861. ...read more.


Provocation may be alleged as a defence to certain crimes in order to lessen the severity of the penalty normally imposed. For example, provocation that would cause a reasonable person to act in a heat of passion - a state of mind where one acts without reflection - may result in a reduction of a charge of murder to a charge of voluntary manslaughter. One of the cases where these defences have been used is R v Ahluwalia 1992. Diminished Responsibility is a potential defence by excuse by which defendants argue that although they broke the law, they should not be held criminally liable for doing so, as their mental functions were "diminished" or impaired. These defences have been used on this case R v Hobson 1988 Suicide Pact describes the suicides of two or more individuals in an agreed-upon plan. The plan may be to die together, or separately and closely timed. Suicide pacts are important concepts in the study of suicide, and have occurred throughout history, as well as in fiction. Suicide pacts are generally distinct from mass suicide. The latter refers to incidents in which a larger number of people kill themselves together for the same ideological reason, often within a religious, political, military or paramilitary context. Suicide pacts, on the other hand, usually involve small groups of people (such as married or romantic partners, family members, or friends) ...read more.


To verify this there is a case about a man called Darren Hoffe an employee with IC roofing, the employee died after falling through a skylight because he had no safety harness or equipment supplied from the job and he also had no safety training in working at heights. The company director named Mr. Colin Cooper was charged with manslaughter which was under Section 2(1) of healthy and safety act 1974 which states that " it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees". Mr. Cooper was trialled for murder but jury found him guilty of corporate manslaughter and was jailed for 12 months. The jury told him that every person has a duty of care. By summing up by what I have written in this essay I think that the actus reus and the mens rea are very important elements in manslaughter and murder, as you know that they decide what they can be charged with if the defendant is found guilty. And without these two elements you would not be able to tell which crime was a accident. Without the mens rea elements of homicide, accidents which result in fatalities could be considered to be as serious as premeditated murder cases. An interesting development is the advert of corporate manslaughter which is aimed at encouraging and hopefully punishing those who do not exercise the correct level of duty of care is order to avoid fatalities. ...read more.

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