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 is the act of damaging or destroying something/someone. Circumstances - this is the fact that the property must belong to another. Consent - this is the resulting damage or destruction of the act. Causation
Causation, also known as result crimes is when a consequence has come about as a result of the Actus Reus being committed. When establishing causation the first step is to ask 'was the defendant's act a cause in the fact of the specified consequence?' This can be answered by asking 'But for what the defendant did would the consequence have occurred?' If the answer is YES then the result wouldn't have occurred if not for the defendant's acts and, therefore causation is established. A case which shows the chain of causation is the case of R v White (1910) the defendant put cyanide into his mother's lemonade, however she died of a heart failure before she drank the poison. The answer to the question 'But for what the defendant did would she have died' is NO she would've died anyway. The defendant had the Actus Reus as he had put the cyanide in his mothers drink and he also had the Mens Rea as he knew that by doing this he would kill her. He was found guilty of attempted murder not murder because he hadn't actually caused his mother's death. 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...
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