I work as a legal advisor at EastEnd solicitors, on behalf of the Head Solicitor I am going to create a detailed report for our new client Mr Mitchell. I am going to be informing him about the elements and various cases that need to be considered to assess a crime along with a thorough explanation of corporate liability.
Elements of Crime
When proving that the defendant is guilty, there are two elements of law which are Actus Rea and Mens Rea. Actus Rea (a/r)
Actus Rea is the physical element of a crime which is basically what the defendant has done and not done. Actus Rea can be: Voluntary act
A failure to act
A state of affairs
An act (Voluntary Act)
The act must be voluntary part of the defendant. For the defendant to execute the a/r they must have physically acted upon the crime. If the defendant has no control his actions then he has not technically committed the a/r. Case: Leicester v Pearson (1952) for full case study, See appendices 1. The defendant did not voluntarily commit the crime as he no control over his actions. Because of this, the defendant was acquitted after they established that he had no control of what occurred. The voluntary act is when the defendant was pushed by the car behind him which contributed to him physically committing the crime. Mr Mitchell you need to understand how the voluntary act operates as it is vital that you understand your legal rights as a defendant if anything happens. In your case, if anyone physically does something and harm is caused then a/r has been committed.
A state of affairs
This applies to cases where the defendant has been condemned of a/r even though they did not act voluntarily. State of affairs reviews circumstances, which is looking at the chain of events. Case: Winzar (1983) for full case study see appendices 2. The fact that the defendant was placed on the highway he had committed state of affairs although he didn’t act voluntarily. Because of the state he was in, the defendant involuntarily committed a crime. State of affairs is when the defendant being drunk was placed on the high way by the police which made him commit the crime as he was found drunk on a public high way. Mr Mitchell, when someone involuntarily does something and it is recognised as a crime, there can be convicted regardless of how they got to that point. You need to understand that to be convicted for state of affairs, it doesn’t have to be the defendant who placed himself in that situation. A failure to act (also known as omission)
Generally, the rule is that there can be no liability for failing to act, unless at the time when the defendant failed to act they were under legal duty to take positive action. There are exceptions to the rule that an omission cannot make a person guilty of an offence. In some cases it is possible for a failure to act to be the a/r. typically the omission will only amount to the a/r if there was originally a ‘duty to act’. Duty to act is referring to the notion where, ‘the defendant is under a duty, which is perceived by law to act in the circumstances. There are five different situations where there is a legal duty: A contractual duty
A duty because of a relationship (usually a parent or child) A duty that has been taken on voluntarily
A duty through ones official position
A duty which arises because the defendant has set in motion a chain of events. A contractual duty
Contractual duty is what a person is meant to do through having a signed contracted. The contract clearly states all the duties you have to partake within that role. Case: Pitwood (1902) for full case study see appendices 3. The contractual duty is for Pitwood to control the railway gate. The defendant failed to shut the gates, which led to a person being killed means he failed to do his contractual duty as a railway crossing...
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