Strict liability

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A2: Criminal law (OCR)

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Strict liability

  1. 1. Define the concept of strict liability by reference to the lack of requirement of mens rea
  2. 2. Common law presumption of mens rea
  3. 3. Sweet v Parsley: D rented a farmhouse out to students.Students smoked cannabis in the property and D was chargedwith “being concerned in the management of premises usedfor the purpose of smoking cannabis resin”. She was found notguilty because the Court presumed the offence required mensrea
  4. 4. B v DPP: a 15 year old boy asked a 13 year old to “give him ashiner”. The D believed she was over the age of 14. He wascharged with “inciting a child under the age of 14 to commit anact of gross negligence”. It was held that the seriousness of thisoffence and the fact that you could face a prison sentencemade the presumption of mens rea stronger.
  5. 5. R v K: indecent assault didnt know age of girl
  6. 6. Statutory nature of strict liability offences: about halfof all statutory offences are one of strict liability
  7. 7. Significance of statutory interpretation in this context– the statute wont contain mention of mens rea
  8. 8. Summary nature of most strict liability offences e. gdriving offences
  9. 9. 5 Principles referred to in Gammon v A-G for HongKong
  10. 10. 1. There is a presumption of law that mens rea is requiredbefore a person can be held guilty of a criminal offence.
  11. 11. 2. The presumption in particularly strong wherethe offences is “truly criminal” in character
  12. 12. 3. The presumption applies to statutory offences, andcan be displaced only if this is clearly or by necessaryimplication the effect of the statute
  13. 13. 4. The only situation in which the presumption can bedisplaced is where the statute is concerned with anissue of social concern, and public safety is such asissue.
  14. 14. 5. Even where a statute is concerned with such an issue, the presumption ofmens rea stands unless it can also be shown that the creation of strictliability will be effective to promote the objects of the statute byencouraging greater vigilance to prevent the commission of the prohibitedact.
  15. 15. Sherras v De Rutzen: The Defendant was convicted of supplyingalcohol to a constable on duty, the C of A quashed theconviction. The presumption that mens rea is an essentialingredient in every other offence.
  16. 16. James & Son v Smee: permitted vehicle use withdefective brakes, (not guilty – not knowingly)

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