Actus reus and mens rea
• Actus reus means:
– The physical element of a crime.
• Mens rea means:
– The mental element of a crime/what the
defendant knew, understood, desired, intended.
Identify the mens rea and actus reus elements from the
following statutory crime.
• The Mrs Dickinson (annoyance of) Act 2014
A person will be guilty of the indictable offence
of ‘annoying Mrs Dickinson’ if they use sexist or
racist language in the classroom during a lesson
whether they mean to offend or are just careless
as to the offence they may cause
Actus reus can be one of three things
• State of affairs.
• Which is outlined in the following offence?
The Failure Act 2014
A person will be guilty of ‘Failure’ if they do not
revise using the booklet provided before Easter.
What is the general rule about
omissions as Actus Reus?
• There is no liability for an omission - "A sees B
drowning and is able to save him by holding
out his hand. A abstains from doing so in
order that B may be drowned, and B is
drowned. A has committed no offence.“
• Who says?
• Stevens J in Digest of the Criminal Law 1887
What are the exceptions to the
• Statutory duty to act
• Duty arising from a relationship
• Where a duty has been taken on
• Duty as a public official
• Where you have created a dangerous situation
• Contractual duty to act.
• Cite an authority (case or act) for each.
• 3 types of mens rea for criminal liability.
– Gross negligence
• 2 types of intention?
– Direct and indirect/oblique
• Direct intention:
• Where D desires the outcome.
• Oblique intention
• Where D desires something other than the result but
appreciated the result was a virtually certain side-effect of
Oblique intention – development
• Moloney (1985)
– Foresight of consequences
• Hancock and Shankland (1986)
– “foresight of ‘likely’ consequence”
• Nedrick (1986)
– “ was the outcome virtually certain?”
• Woollin (1999)
– “did the DEFENDANT appreciate the outcome was
• Original test was _________jective.
• This is from the case C________
• This was been replaced in criminal liability by
the ______jective test.
• Outlined in the caseC___________
• This was then criticised in the case
_____________ which reinstored
C______________ recklessnesss as the
– Where the negligence to a duty of care is so great
that a jury consider it to be criminal
These are crimes with no ______ __________
They can be either statutory crimes
Or more rarely common-law crimes
Strict liability – Statutory crimes
• Courts will only apply SL where
• 1) the statute makes it clear or
• 2) where the statute is silent about mens-rea and
the G_________ test applies.
– Gammon test
• Is the law to protect public health/interest?
• Is the law regulatory rather than ‘truly criminal?
• Will applying SL help promote vigilence in this?
• Where the crime is a “result crime” causation
must also be shown for their to be criminal
• An example of a result crime is….?
• An example of a non-result crime is... ?
Tests for causation
• The two tests are factual and legal test
• Factual test is also known as?
– BUT FOR
– Give 2 cases which illustrate this
• Dalloway / Pagett
• Legal test – D’s action are not “de- ________”
• Don’t forget the thin skull rule!
• - case?
Novus Actus Interveniens
• a new or intervening act may break the chain
of causation between D’s act and the result.
• Whose act may break the chain?
– Third Party
Actions of a third party.
– Third party drops V from stretcher and docs fail to treat
Was D guilty or not guilty of V’s murder?
What was the test?
“was the original wound the operating cause of death?”
see also Cheshire !
• Rare contrasting case – medical treatment was SO
NEGLIGENT and his wounds so unconnected to his
Actions of The Victim
• The victim may break the chain of causation themselves.
• Williams – V jumped from moving car to avoid being robbed
• Roberts – V jumped from a moving car to avoid being raped
• If V behaves unreasonably and unforeseeably, the chain will be
broken, therefore Williams was not liable, Roberts was.
• Hint to remember these:
– Williams-Wallet - victim was a Wally.
– Roberts- Rapist – victim was Reasonable