Lecture 6 introduction to criminal law


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Lecture 6 introduction to criminal law

  2. 2. Learning Outcomes: Outline the elements of crime; Understand the different degrees of intent; Explain what is a strict liability offence; Outline the burden and standard of proof in criminal law; and Be able to analyse case law and cite cases in a persuasive manner in an answer.
  3. 3. What is a crime and how is it different from a tort? Definition of crime: no universally accepted definition! Lord Tucker 1957: “a crime is an unlawful act...which is an offence against the public and renders the person guilty of the act...liable to legal punishment” Crime-Public Law; whereas tort falls under the Private (Civil) Law Remedies: Criminal Law-punishment Tort-compensation (damages)
  4. 4. The elements of crime: “Actus Reus”- the guilty act: it is the physical element of the offence “Mens Rea”- the guilty mind or intention: it is the mental element of the offence Each offence has its own actus reus and mens rea-this will be examined in more detail when we look at the different offences that will be studied on the course
  5. 5. Actus Reus Actus reus is usually the act of committing an offence. The physical act. However, the actus reus of an offence can also be an omission. An omission is the failure to do something. For example, the failure to stop at the traffic light or the failure to wear a seat belt.
  6. 6. CHAIN OF CAUSATION Chain of causation- there must be a casual link between the D’s act/omission and the consequences R v Lewis (1970) R v Smith (1959) R v Jordan (1956)
  7. 7. Mens Rea  Different levels of mens rea are required for different crimes: for example, the mens rea of murder differs from the mens rea of manslaughter  Specific Intention: this is whereby the defendant has the intention/desire to commit the crime and achieve the desired consequences of his actions. For example, to cause the victim injury or to kill the victim.  R v Mohan (1976)- Court of Appeal held that motive or reason of the defendant for doing the act is not important  Recklessness: here the defendant does not intend to commit the crime but acts in such a reckless way that any reasonable person would realise that a crime would be committed as a result. The defendant takes an unjustifiable risk, aware of the danger that might result.
  8. 8. Strict Liability Offences  No requirement to establish mens rea- the actus reus is enough to hold the D guilty  E.g., drink driving, failure to stop at the traffic light, selling alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 years old etc.  Winzar v Chief Constable for Kent (1983)  Harrow Borough Council v Shah (1999)
  9. 9. What is the standard and burden of proof in criminal law?  Defendant is innocent until proven guilty  Burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable ground that the defendant is guilty of the offence  Burden of proof: who has to prove the defendant guilty of the offence  The Prosecution  Standard of proof: the test/what needs to be proven  “prove beyond reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty of the offence (Woolmington v DPP (1935))
  10. 10. “Beyond reasonable doubt” There must not be any degree of “reasonable doubt” What amounts to “reasonable doubt” ? Almost saying that the judge/jury has to be absolutely certain that the defendant is guilty/not guilty of the offence
  11. 11. However......... The burden of proof will rest on the defence where for example, the defendant, who has been charged with murder ,raises the defence of diminished responsibility  In this situation the defence will have to prove not on the test of “beyond reasonable doubt” but a test based on a “balance of possibilities”, that the defendant has a defence
  12. 12. Preps. For Seminar 5 Hand Out Reading:  Jacqueline Martin, “GCSE Law”, 5th edition, Chapter 21- Criminal Law: introduction List of Cases (on Hand Out)