many criminal offences require proof that the defendant performed a voluntary act, or omission, or was part of a state of affairs.Sometimes the defendant can be liable for the acts of others.
when the defendant is under a duty to act
Road traffic act section 6 imposes statutory duty on drivers to provide a breath test when required to do so by a constable.
duties of law enforcement
a police officer who fails to protect a citizen can be held to have committed an offence.
voluntary assumption of responsibility, expressed or implied. see cases:1. Evans
2. lewin v CPS
Fagan v Metropolitan police commissioner
defendant accidentally drove his car over a policeman's foot, after which he refused to remove the car. appealed on the basis that he did not have the mens rea when he committed the act, and did not commit an act when he had the mens rea.although the court said,
Actus reus = battery = exerting force on the policeman's leg
mens rea existed in the act of omitting to move the car
ownership or control of property
owner of property must seek to prevent the crime sought to be committed by another person in his presence.
creation of danger
R v MIller,
lit cigarette + asleep + wakes up + falls asleep = arson
in pittwood, the defendant failed to perform his duty of closing a gate when required, resulting in the death of another person. Contractual duty owed to the employer made him criminally liable.
possession of contraband substances
possession of a weapon
liability for the acts of other people
factual or 'but for'
the defendant's act is a but for cause of a result,if, but for the defendant's act, the result would not have occurred.
'SUBSTANTIAL AND OPERATING CAUSES'
substantial: must contribute to the end result to a significant extent.
operating: the defendants act must the operating cause of the result.
BREAKING THE CHAIN OF CAUSATION
novus actus interveniens: A free voluntary act of a third party which renders the original ac no longer a substantial and operating cause of the result
Acts of third parties
R v Kennedy
B's act must be a free, voluntary, and informed act.
B's act must render A's act no longer a substantial and operating cause.
act of victim
R v Roberts (makes indecent gestures, resulting in victim jumping out of his car) Here act of victim did not break the chain.
R v Blaue (After being stabbed by Blaue , the victim refuses blood transfusion as a treatment (since she was a jehovah's witness), and died.
omissions of third parties
does not break a chain of causation.
ACTS OF GOD
Freak accidents can break the chain of causation
Thin skull rule
Take the victim as you see them, with all (dis)abilities and (in)abilities, even if they are not aware of them.
little case law for unintended results
[ see michael (1840) 9 C & P 356]