What’s the offence or defence? Insanity Intoxication ‘Battery’ Burglary Necessity Murder
Basic Elements of Criminal Law: Actus Reus & Omissions G153 Criminal Law 2011-12
General Rules in Criminal Law Most crimes have two elements: Mens Rea Actus Reus Applying: What’s the AR & MR here? It is an offence to dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the other of it. s.1 Theft Act 1968 Can you tell the difference? I’m going to steal a car. A punch in the face causing a black eye I just shot a man and I’m glad.
Actus Reus General Rule: It should be a positive voluntary act Leicester v Pearson 1952 But there are exceptions to this... Sometimes you don’t need to act voluntarily, act, or even mean to do anything!
Consequence or Result State of Affairs Types of Actus Reus Omission Conduct
Focus on Omission Definition: An omission is a failure to do something. They come largely from the common law which means that they are created by the courts Do these passers by have a legal duty to act? What about a moral duty? General Rule: A passer by sees a car crash A policeman sees a person lying on the floor. Airedale NHS v Bland 1996 A passer by sees child pushing another into a river A lifeguard on duty is chatting to his girlfriend while a child drowns. Is this clearly an omission?
What do I mean by a ‘duty of care’? This is a legal not moral decision Donoghue v Stevenson 1932 Can you spot any issues with this definition? "You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who then, in law is my neighbour? The answer seems to be - persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are in question." A criminal example... R v Winters 2010
Duty arising from specific relationships R v Gibbons & Proctor 1918 s.1 Child and Young Person’s Act 1933
Duty arising from contractual obligations R v Pittwood 1902 R v Adomako 1993
Duty arising from public office R v Dytham 1979
Voluntary Assumption of Duty R v Stone & Dobinson 1977 R v Instan 1893
Duty Arising from Dangerous Prior Conduct R v Miller 1983 R v Santana-Bermudez 2003
Is there a Crime here? D was sitting on a chair when an eight-year-old girl put her hand on his penis outside his trousers for about five minutes. The pressure of the child's hand caused him to have an erection. He remained inactive throughout and did nothing to encourage the child, although he did not remove her hand. D was charged with gross indecency Court’s Response "...we think that such inactivity can nevertheless amount to an invitation to the child to undertake the act…Is it going to be an answer for him to lie back and say " No, I am not moving; I am not active; I am not committing an offence " ? If the circumstances justified the view that his conduct amounted to an invitation to the child that she was to continue the act, then it is clear that is sufficient activity to justify a conviction."
Starter: Were you listening? You have 5 minutes to match the cards… without your handouts!
A new situation? R v Evans (Gemma) 2009 Remember that Khan and Khanhad made it clear that the courts could develop more duty situations... They had already done this with the case of Wacker, but the most recent situation is detailed in the edited law report. What happened? What is the main problem with omissions? What was the outcome of the appeal? Which duty could not be used to convict D and why? Name one case which was followed by the CA in this decision What was the duty, which was developed by the CA here? Do you agree that D was “under a plain and obvious duty”? Why?
Statutory Duties In addition to those common law areas, there are some specific situations where Parliament has decided that an omission attract bring criminal liability. s.5 Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004
What is the offence created under this act?
Why was the mother convicted? What was her ‘omission’?
Do you agree with the new law? What kind of situations do you think it was created to prevent?
Odd one out? Theft Murder Perjury Gibbons & Proctor Stone & Dobinson Instan France Netherlands England Adomako Dytham Airedale NHS v Bland
AO2: Applying the Law Are they liable? Remember: Use cases to illustrate your conclusions
Reforms and Evaluations These are necessary for the essays – what are the positive and negative points of the current law? What about reforms? What do these show about our current law? When are you under a duty of care? How do you ‘give up’ a duty of care? Should some people be under higher standards than others? How do you ‘give up’ a duty of care? Not everything can be ‘omitted’ Is it really an omission? Teacher Tip: Aim to use cases to illustrate and explain your criticisms.
Essay Question Essentials The quote will give you a context for your answer and key words to reference “In general the criminal law prohibits the doing of harm but does not impose criminal liability for an omission. However there are justifiable exceptions to this general principle.” Assess the truth of this statement by references to situations where a failure to act may result in criminal liability.  25 AO1 20 A02 5 AO3 This is essentially asking you to describe and evaluate this area of the law. You should use a minimum of 8 cases, which are well explained and evaluated.
What kind of thing are you expecting me to write? The case of Stone and Dobinson, where the defendants attempted to care for the victim, who refused their help, and the defendants couldn’t get help because they didn’t know how to use a telephone, shows how harsh the duties can be on the defendant. People are liable who should not be. The defendants did try to help Stone’s sister and did their best considering their low level of intellect. This case does not demonstrate a justifiable exception – it is morally unjust that they were convicted and sent to prison.
Have you understood? Look back at the objectives on the front of your handout. How confident do you feel with each?
Homework Write up your response to the essay by 3.15 on Friday 17th June 2011 It can be submitted by email, in person... But it must be in by 3.15!