Murder, Actus Reus and Mens Rea


Fundamental things that you should know about Murder, Actus Reus and Mens Rea
Flashcards by alan.10a, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by alan.10a over 10 years ago

Resource summary

Question Answer
Definition of Murder Coke: Unlawfully killing a person in being under the queens peace with malice aforethought (year and a day rule has been abolished)
AR of murder Unlawfully killing another person (through an act not an omission)
MR of murder Malice a forethought (The intention to kill or to cause GBH)
The two types of intention Direct intention: where the consequences are desired Oblique intention: where the consequences are not desired but virtually certain to happen (rule of evidence only)
How do you identify oblique intention: The Nedrick/Woolin test: two stage test 1. Was the result virtually certain? 2. Did the defendant appreciate this?
What is causation and when is it applied? Causation is applied in AR to determine whether D caused V's death: Factual Causation: The 'but for test' Legal Causation: De minimis test Intervening Acts: Novus Actus interveniens
What does the thin skull rule dictate and in what case was this applied? That you take your victim as you find them as seen in Blaue
Can the acts of a third party break the chain of causation? Yes, as seen in Pagett and Cheshire
Does medical treatment break the chain of causation? If it is grossly negligent as seen in Jordan however, in general it will not as seen in Cheshire
What are absolute liability offences and give an example of a case? Absolute liability offences are offences for which the prosecution need not prove mens rea in relation to ANY element of the actus reus as seen in state of affair cases: Larsonneur and Winzor v Chief Constable of Kent
Why do strict liability offences exist? (what are the benefits of them) Promotion of care (To protect people) Deterrent value (ensures compliance to avoid criminal prosecution) Easier enforcement (no MR needed)
What is an omission and is there a criminal liability for an omission? The general rule is that there is no criminal liability for failing to act. Thus, a defendant will not be criminally liable for an offence by his failure (or omission) to perform an act.
What are the six exceptions to the general rule for an omission? • where there is a special relationship between D and V • where D voluntarily assumes responsibility of V • where there is a contractual duty • where public office creates a duty to act • where D creates a dangerous situation he has a duty to avert such danger • where statute imposes a duty on D to act
Give a case for special relationships in relation to omissions Downes : Where there is a special relationship between D and V, D is under a positive duty to act. This was then confirmed in Gibbins and Proctor
Case for Voluntary assumption of responsibility and legal principle Stone and Dobinson: Where the defendant has voluntarily assumed responsibility for the victim a positive duty to act may be imposed on the d.
Case and legal principle for Contractual duty Pittwood (train case): A contract can create a positive duty to act.
Case and legal principle for Public office (Public duty) Dytham (The Police case): Public office can create a positive duty to act.
Case for and legal principle for Creation of a dangerous situation Miller: A defendant who is responsible for creating a dangerous situation has a duty to prevent a prohibited result from occurring
When can there be criminal liability for an omission in Statutory exceptions? Where a statute imposes a duty on the defendant to act, then his failure to do so will amount to a criminal offence. For example, failing to provide a police officer with a specimen of breath is an offence under s.6, Road Traffic Act 1988.
How do you apply the but for test? (factual causation) But for the defendant’s conduct/omission, would the victim have died? If yes – V would have died anyway, D is not the factual cause of death. If no – V would not have died but for D’s conduct/omission, D is the factual cause of death.
How do you apply the de minimis test? (Legal Causation) Were the accused’s actions more than a minimal or slight or trivial cause of the result?
What do you ask during the novus actus interveniens stage? Was there present a new intervening act/event that breaks the chain of causation between the accused’s actions and the result
Can the acts of the victim break the chain of causation? If the act of the victim is reasonable then no it doesn't however, if the acts of the victim are unreasonable then yes as seen in Roberts
What is direct intention? Where a consequence is wanted (or desired)
Which type of recklessness is used currently in the UK? Cunningham recklessness (Subjective recklessness)
What is the Cunningham recklessness test? The test requires proof that 1) D was aware of the existence of the unjustifiable risk 2) and nevertheless went on to take it
Must the actus reus and mens rea coincide? The principle of coincidence provides that the actus reus and mens rea of a criminal offence must coincide. However, courts have attempted to get round this requirement by creating several theories, such as the ‘continuing act’ theory in Fagan v MPC and 'single transaction theory' in Thabo Meli
What is transferred malice? Where the defendant has the mens rea to commit an offence against a particular person or property, but he commits the actus reus of that offence against a different person or property as it gets transferred as seen in Latimer (belt case)
What are strict liability offences? Strict liability offences are those which do not require mens rea to be proved in respect of AT LEAST one element of the actus reus. As seen in Woodrow
What are the two main types of homicide? 1) Murder 2) Manslaughter
Which case defined what grievous means and what does it mean? It was defined in DDP v Smith: Grievous=Really serious (it's also up to the jury to decide whether something is serious or not)
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