Criminal Law: Notes

Topics: Criminal law, Crime, Elements of crime Pages: 27 (7508 words) Published: March 9, 2014
Week 2

Mens Rea
 The defendant’s mental state.
 Mens Rea and Actus Reus are necessary for a crime; apart from in strict liability crimes when mens rea is not necessary.
 Different crimes have different mens rea.
 Example: murder requires intention to cause death or GBH.  Sometimes an offence will have different mens rea for different aspects of the crime.  Example: rape needs intention to commit sexual intercourse but only needs recklessness as to whether the victim is consenting.

Intention
 The most blameworthy state of mind – worse to kill intentionally than recklessly or negligently.
Meaning of Intention
 House of Lords => intention is to be given its ordinary meaning.  Judges should not elaborate or paraphrase what is meant by intention – avoid defining it; leave it to good sense of jury – common sense meaning of the word.  What is ordinary meaning? Courts presume it is obvious….so don’t issue a definition…but widely accepted definition is:

“A defendant intends a consequence if he acts with the aim or purpose of producing that consequence.”
 Duff’s test of failure is a good way of testing whether intention was present:  Had the result not occurred, would the defendant have considered it a failure?  YES = Intention was present
 However, this test has to be treated with caution when considering cases where the

result is a means to achieve a desired end.
 E.g. A kills B to get B’s inheritance – his desired end is getting the inheritance.  If B didn’t die, but A somehow got the inheritance anyway, then Duff’s failure test would have the answer of NO (because he got the inheritance) and would therefore suggest that A didn’t have the intention of killing B.

 However, it is clear that A did intend to kill B – when we consider the purpose of the defendant this includes not only the end (getting the inheritance) but also means used to achieve that end (killing B).

Intention v Foresight
 Whether the defendants act was likely to produce to consequence is irrelevant.  A person can realise that an event is unlikely, yet still intend it.

Week 2
 However, it is accepted that if the defendant thought the result was impossible then he cannot be said to intend it – he cannot act with the purpose of producing a result that is impossible.
 House of Lords in Moloney => made it clear intention is not the same as foresight.  Although foresight is evidence from which a jury can infer intention. R v Moloney [1985] AC 905 Nutcases pg 15; Palgrave pg 202;

Convicted of murder => appeal C of A => dismissed => appealed H of L => successful => manslaughter

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Appellant and stepfather had been drinking, argued about who was faster to load & shoot a shotgun => appellant shot stepfather => died.
- Trial judge directed => a man intends consequences when he desires them to happen or foresees that they will probably happen.
H of L Appeal judge held: Jury should not be directed as to meaning of intention. In rare cases when direction necessary => make clear foresight NOT equivalent to intention, but jury can infer intention from foresight. Case established => foresight is evidence of intent, not the same as intent.

R v Hancock and Shankland [1986] AC 455 Palgrave pg 202;
Convicted of murder => appealed C of A => appeal allowed => manslaughter => H of L agreed

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Appellants pushed concrete blocks from bridge to block road during miners strike. Blocks fell on taxi taking minor to work killing taxi driver Trial judge directed => jury entitled to infer intention if accused had foreseen death or serious injury as natural consequences of their acts. Convicted murder,appeal allowed. H of L Appeal judge held: direction misleading. Direction was good because based on Moloney direction that foresight merely evidence of intention-although intention can be inferred from foresight. HOWEVER reference to “natural” consequences misleading – should have mentioned the probability of those consequences. So...
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