Questions on Criminal Law.

Authors Avatar

Criminal Law 1                                                         Session 2001-2002

Coursework Assessment

(1)(a)(i) There is no need for the Crown to establish mens rea here.  Mens rea is the latin maxim for the guilty mind indicating the criminal responsibility of the accused, relative to a particular crime.  This is a strict liability offence, found only in statutory crimes, which means that all the Crown are required to prove is the actus reus of the offence, being the behavioural element or the guilty act.  This offence is a conduct crime where the definition of the crime contains a type of behaviour only and no resultant damage or injury.  Thus, the Crown would only require to prove that Angela was in possession of an article with a blade or point in a public place and they would not need to consider her mental state while doing so.  

The Crown would need to show that the scythe and axe fall into the category of article to which the section of the Act applies, which appears to be straightforward as evidenced by their blades.  Having dealt with the first part of the description of the offence, the question is introduced as to whether or not the field may be defined as a place to which “the public have or are permitted access” as per subsection (7) of the Act.  On the one hand the field is private land owned by the farmer therefore not public, but on the other hand, as Angela has proved, the public could gain access if they wished.  Therefore the Crown would need to argue and prove that the field was a “public place” for the purposes of section 49 of the Act.

(1)(a)(ii) The burden of proof is on Angela to defend her actions.  Under the Act there are two sections describing defences an accused may employ.  Angela may endeavour to prove that she had “good reason” (which differs from “reasonable excuse” held in Lister v. Lees 1994 S.C.C.R. 548 annotated in Current Law Statutes 1995) or “lawful authority” to be carrying the offending articles under section (4) of the Act.  However, this would seem to be an unconvincing argument.  She may be more likely to attempt to prove that she had the tools “for use at work” under section (5) of the Act.  She would have to prove that she was a “gardener to trade” as per the facts set out in the question and that she was carrying the tools within the scope of her trade, though as she was not working or in her working environment this would likely be difficult for her.  She may argue that she had been tending to her allotment with the aid of the tools before she commenced her protest, or that she did not envisage spending so much time on the farmer’s property and had planned to proceed to her allotment following her protest, preferring to keep her tools in the safety of her home rather

Join now!



than at risk in a shed or in the absence of a shed.  She would be bound to prove these facts ‘on the balance of probabilities’, a lower standard than the Crown’s standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.

(1)(b)(i) Vandalism is described as a result crime where the definition of the crime contains a type of behaviour together with resulting consequential damage.  For a conviction of vandalism the Crown would have to prove that Angela did wilfully or recklessly damage the farmer’s fence.  Therefore, here, elements of both mens rea and actus reus must be established. ...

This is a preview of the whole essay