- The actus reus of a crime, is the 'conduct element' of the crime; this can mean one of three things: - A positive act, i.e. directly and purposefully shooting someone in the head. - An omission; or the failure to act, i.e. failing to feed a child. - Simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, i.e. Winzar or Larsonneur.- The law on actus reus exists in order to protect people from harm, and in order to do so the law must be drawn flexibly. An actus reus is normally followed by the appropriate mens rea so criminal law is built on fault.
- An omission is the failure to act, and when doing so this creates liability for a crime. However, to be liable for a crime committed through omission, there must be a duty to act in that situation. There are six possible duties which would create liability through omission: - Statutory Duty - Contractual duty - Duty created by an official position - Duty created by relationship - Voluntary assumption of a duty based on reliance - Creation of a dangerous situation leading to a duty
- Where an act of parliament exists to protect society, also known as 'social paternalism' the failure to act accordingly to the laws set down in this act will create liability through omission. Examples of this are: - s.170 Road Traffic act 1984- The failure to report a road accident is a crime. - s.1 Children and Young Persons act 1933 - Failure to protect a person under the age of 16 from harm is a crime.
- Where a job of work creates liability to act, for example a teacher or a lifeguard has a duty to act to keep people safe.Examples: - Pittwood - failed to set railway crossing leading to death. - AdOmako - failed to notice that an important tube had come undone during surgery leading to victim's death.
- A duty to act is created through an official position, is a specific extension of the contractual duty for example with the police. Examples: - Dytham - A police officer went off duty without reporting a fight he had come across.
Duty created by a relationship
- A duty is created by a relationship which is often generally accepted, for example the relationship between a parent and child. Examples: - Gibbins and Proctor - The two defendants were the care givers to a young girl who deliberately starved and isolated G's eldest daughter. P was the mistress.
- A duty through the voluntary assumption of a duty based on reliance to another, is when a person voluntarily takes on the duty to care for another. EXamples: - Gibbins and Proctor - (See previous slide) the mistress accepted a duty through taking the child into her household. - Instan - D moved in with his aunt as a carer but ignored her when she became ill and the aunt died. - Stone and Dobinson - D's sister who suffered from an eating disorder came to live with D and his wife, who tried to help however it was ineffective.
Creation of a dangerous Situation
- If a defendant sets in course a number of motions which result in a dangerous situation, it is the responsibility of the defendant to do something to help, otherwise the failure to do so will create liability for the crime in question. Examples: - Miller: Squatter set fire to a mattress and failed to get help to stop the fire. - Santa-Bermudez - Failed to warn police officer of a needle in his pocket. - Evans - Gave sister heroin, and then put her to bed after she collapsed hoping she'd recover.
Limit of a Duty
- A person of sound mind can release another from their duty to care. Smith- Sometimes a duty can change and end. Re B and Bland.- A duty may not exist in the first place. Khan and Khan