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Law- Strict liability, mens rea actus reus

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Explain the concept of "actus reus" and "mens rea" and strict liability. Do you think that there should be strict liability for a crime where there was no prior intention to commit the offence? "A crime is an unlawful act or default which is an offence against the public and renders the person guilty of the act or default liable to legal punishment." 1 In relation to the question... The essay will be divided into two sections. The first section of the essay will explain the principles of actus reus, mens rea and strict liability. The second section of this essay will discuss the opinions and criticisms of the law relating to strict liability. In addition, a conclusion on the arguments as to whether strict liability is fair will be reached and suggestion son reform will be made. *elements of a crime. A- To find a person guilty of a crime, two elements must be present; actus reus and mens rea. The legal dictionary definition of actus reus is a 'guilty act' which is forbidden by the criminal law. ...read more.


The victim takes avoiding action- for example victim jumping into a river to escape an attack and drowns - defendant can be responsible for the death. Defendant is not guilty is the action taken by the victim was unreasonable or too far removed from original attack for example, three months after an assault the victim suffers from depression and as a result commits suicide. In the case of R. v. Smith (1959) a soldier got stabbed when a fight broke out in his barracks. The Court of Appeal described his medical treatment as "thoroughly bad". The Court of Appeal held that the victim's death was still a result of being stabbed by the defendant so he or she was of murder. C- Mens rea literally means guilty mind however the defendant does not need to know what he is doing is a crime. The defendant only used to have the intention required by that specific offence that they are charged with. There are different types of intention. The law states that a defendant must have specific intention for serious crimes. ...read more.


When the courts are deciding whether or not an offence is strict liability, they have to take into consideration certain factors. These factors are based on a modern criteria and were created by Lord Scarman in the case of Gammon (Hong Kong) Ltd v. Attorney General for Hong Kong (1984) 2. In the following examples he states he is basically describing various situations where strict liability would apply: 1. There is a presumption of law that mens rea is required before a person can be held guilty of a criminal offence. 2. Mens rea is particularly required where the offence is truly criminal - very serious. 3. Mens rea can only be removed where a statue clearly states that mens rea is not necessary. 4. The only situation where mens rea can be removed is where the statute is concerned with an issue of social concern and public safety. 5. Strict liability is preferred in situations where the aim is to prevent people committing a certain crime 1 Halsbury's Laws of England quoted by Lord Tucker. Case before the House of Lords, Board of Trade v. Owen (1957) 2 Gammon (Hong Kong) Ltd v. Attorney General for Hong Kong (1984) 2 ALL ER 503 ...read more.

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