Legal Characteristics of a Crime

Topics: Criminal law, Crime, Law Pages: 3 (753 words) Published: December 3, 2010
Legal Characteristics of a crime are:
-There must be a failure to act (an omission) which breaks the law. -The act or omission must be seen harmful to the whole community. Summary Offences – are those heard and decided by a magistrate sitting without a jury. They are relatively minor and include motor traffic offences and offensive behaviour. Indictable Offences- are serious criminal offences and may be heard by a judge or jury. They include murder, sexual assault and malicious wounding.

The federal government legislates for some criminal offences such as tax evasion, social security fraud and importation of illegal drugs. However most criminal law is state law. Criminal law is found in both common and statute law. Common law still covers many areas of criminal law, for example, conspiracy, and the courts play a major role in interpret ting statutes. The major statute in Australia is the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which lists offences and prescribes maximum penalties. Other statutes include the Summary offences Act 1988 (NSW) which mostly deals with public order offences and the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW) which covers drug offences. Elements of a crime.

-Actus Reus is the guilty act. This is the voluntary commission of an act, or voluntary omission of a duty that breaks the law. The important features of the actus reus are:
-The act or omission actually took place
-It was done by the accused person
-That it was voluntary. If a person have a muscular spasm and hit someone during that spasm, they would not be acting voluntarily and therefore the actus reus could not be proved. -Mens Rea is the guilty mind, this means that the person must have committed the act or omission with the intention to do so recklessly or with gross negligence. This shows that the actus reus must have been committed by a person with one of the following states of mind: -The intention or specific desire to commit the act or omit the duty. -Recklessness – the person could...
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