Unit 24 - Assignment 1
For this assignment I will be describing the elements of a crime which are Mens Rea and Actus Reus. Mens Rea is Latin for 'guilty mind' and it is the mental thinking behind the crime which has been committed, it refers to the intentions of the person who committed the crime. For example, when someone commits theft their intention is to permanently deprive the owner/s of the object. Actus Reus is Latin for 'guilty act' and it can either be an act or a failure to act. For example, when someone commits theft they must've physically taken something. The three C's of Actus Reus must be taken into account when investigating a crime they are:
• Conduct - this ...view middle of the document...
Another case which shows the chain of causation is R v Dear (1996) which is a similar case R v Smith (1959) in this case the defendant had repeatedly slashed the victim with a knife after being told that the victim had been sexually intimate with the defendant's 12 year old daughter. The victim died two days later. The defendant argued that the victim had caused his own death by re-opening his wounds and refusing to allow for the ambulance to be called, so that he bled to death. A suicide note was also found left by the victim. As he had the Actus Reus as he had repeatedly slashed the victim and he had the Mens Rea as he wanted to seriously harm/kill the victim his conviction was upheld as the defendants conduct was still an operating and significant cause of the death.
A case which shows the chain of causation being broken is R v Jordan (1956) the defendant stabbed the victim and the victim died from bronchopneumonia in hospital about a week later. Evidence that wasn't available at the trial came to light which indicated that the bronchopneumonia was probably caused by the victim's unusual reaction to Terramycin, which had been administered to him even though his allergy had been discovered, and/or by an excess of intravenous fluids. The answer to the question 'But for what the defendant did would the consequence have occurred?' is YES however, as the death was a result of medical negligence by the doctors therefore, as the treatment the victim received was obviously wrong and would have disallowed a jury from holding that death was caused by the defendants actions. Due to this despite having the Actus Reus as he had stabbed the victim and also having the Mens Rea as he'd wanted to cause harm to the victim he was found NOT guilty of murder thus breaking the chain of causation.
In the case of R v Malcherek and Steel (1981) two separate appeals were tried together. In Malcherek the defendant stabbed his wife and In Steel the defendant had sexually assaulted and beaten a woman over the head with a stone. In both cases the victims had been taken to hospital and where placed on life support and later on after showing no signs of activity in their brain stem were switched off. The defendants argued that the doctor's actions constituted novus actus interveniens which broke the chain of causation. Their convictions were upheld as at the time that the machines were switched off they were already dead therefore, the doctors could not be the cause of death.
In most cases a failure to act doesn't result in a person being found guilty. However, there are cases where this is not the case and can result in a person being found guilty. This is known as an omission.
Omissions can occur when there is a duty of care to children or where there is an assumption of care for another. An example of this is R v Gibbons and Proctor (1918) the defendant and his common law wife failed to feed his 7 year old daughter (Nelly) and she later died of...