Law of Homicide

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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.


Mens rea is the Latin term for “guilty mind” and it is usually one of the important constituent of a crime. The standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase; actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, this phrase means that “the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty”.

Mens rea is very important because without it the crime could not be considered to be an accident. One of the big constituent in the criminal liability, that the accused should have a mental state commensurate with committing the offence. This state is known as mens rea, which can be also known as “guilty mind” or “blameworthy mind”. A mostly ever criminal offence requires a demonstration mens rea.

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The Theft Act (1968) is that if someone is dishonestly, appropriate, property, belonging to another and the intention to permanently deprive. The theft and steal shall be construed accordingly. The actus reus is property, appropriation and the mens rea is dishonesty and intention to permanently deprive.

The case R v Nedrick (1986) was about a man who poured petrol through the letterbox of a woman who he had grudged against. He lighted the letterbox and in the house there was the woman and a child. The child died when the letterbox was set on fire and he was taken to ...

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