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NAME: SAVEEZA KABSHA

ROLL NO: 2015-LLB-022

SEMESTER: 5TH

COURSE: CRIMINAL LAW I

INSTR: MA’AM KHADIJA MEHMOOD

DEPTT: LAW

Criminal Law I
A crime is an act committed or omitted, in violation of a public
law, either forbidding or commanding it; a breach or violation of
some public right or duty due to a whole community, considered Acts Rea &
as a community. In its social aggregate capacity, as distinguished Mens Rea In
from a civil injury. “Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea”,
which literally means “an act does not make a person guilty Crime
unless mind is also guilty”
2

1. Crime
1.1. Definitions

The word crime has its roots in the Ancient Greek word krima which referrs to an


intellectual mistake or an offense against the community, rather than a private or moral
wrong.1

From this, Latin word cernō, is derived which means "I decide, I give judgment".2 The
term “Crime” is defined in today’s dictionary as “an action or omission which constitutes
an offence and is punishable by law.”3
According to Black’s Law dictionary defines crime as “A crime is an act committed or
omitted, in violation of a public law, either forbidding or commanding it; a breach or
violation of some public right or duty due to a whole community, considered as a
community. In its social aggregate capacity, as distinguished from a civil injury.” 4 (441
U.S. 468 (1979))
1.2. Elements
To establish crime, two elements are to be established
1.2.1 Actus Reus
1.2.2 Mens Rea
“Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea”, which literally means “an act does not make a
person guilty unless mind is also guilty”

2. Actus Reus
Actus reus is commonly defined as a criminal act that was the result of voluntary bodily
movement. This describes a physical activity that harms another person or damages
property. Anything from a physical assault or murder to the destruction of public property
would qualify as an actus reus.
2.1. Omission
1
Bakaoukas, Michael. "The conceptualisation of 'Crime' in Classical Greek Antiquity: From the ancient Greek
'crime' (krima) as an intellectual error to the christian 'crime' (crimen) as a moral sin." ERCES (European and
International research group on crime, Social Philosophy and Ethics). 2005.

2
Ernest Klein, Klein's Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language
3
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crime
4
Wilkins v. U. S
3

Omission, or failure, to act generally carries no liabilities. That means a person can
only be criminally liable where they have performed a positive act. However, there
are six exceptions to this rule. The first of these is duty arising from a statute. The
second exemption is duty arising from special relationships.5 Thirdly, assumption of
care is an exception to omission to act.6 The three other exceptions include official,
contractual or public duties, duty to avert a danger of one's own making and failure to
provide medical treatment.
2.2. Causation
Factual causation is established by conducting the “But-for” test. 7

3. Mens Rea
Mens rea in criminal law is concerned with the state of mind of the defendant. Most true
crimes will require proof of mens rea. Where mens rea is not required the offence is one
of strict liability.
3.1. Intention
Intention is important because it is the mens rea requirement for serious offences. It is
of two types
3.1.1. Direct intent
Direct intent is relatively straightforward and is linked to the defendant’s aim
or purpose. 
3.1.2. Oblique intent
Oblique intent is where the defendant did not desire the consequences, but
they knew they were certain to occur.
3.2. Recklesness
Recklessness is defined as foreseeing that a particular kind of harm may be done, but
going on to do it anyway.8

5
R v Gibbins and Proctor (1918)
6
R v Chattaway (1922)
7
R v Cheshire (1991)
8
R v Cunningham (1957)
4

This time, to be reckless was to carry out an act that creates obvious risk or damage
and also giving no thought of there possibly being a risk, or in recognizing a risk, they
go on to do it anyway.9
3.3. Tests
An objective test looks at the perspective of a reasonable person. Ie Would a
reasonable person have foreseen the degree of probability of the result occurring from
the defendant's actions. A subjective test is concerned with the defendant's
perspective. In relation to oblique intent it would be concerned only with whether the
defendant did foresee the degree of probability of the result occurring from his
actions.

4. Case Laws
4.1. Coincidence of Actus Reus and Mens Rea (AG's Ref (No. 4 of 1980) [1981]
CA)
D, in the course of a struggle pushed his girlfriend  head first over the landing rail so
that she landed on her head on the floor below.  Believing her to be dead he then
dragged her upstairs by a rope around her neck.  Finally he cut her throat with a knife
before cutting up the body in a bath and then disposing of it. 
Held: It was impossible to establish whether V died in the original fall or whether he
killed her by his subsequent actions.
A manslaughter conviction was possible, despite uncertainty as to the actual cause of
death, but only if it could be proved that each of D's acts was performed with the
requisite mens rea for that offence. 
Since the initial fall may well have killed V, it would not suffice to establish mens
rea (such as gross negligence) only in the subsequent act of disposal: the prosecution
also had to disprove D's claim that he had merely pushed her away in a 'reflex action'
when she dug her nails into him in the struggle on the upstairs landing.
Thus: Guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.
4.2. Coincidence of Actus Reus and Mens Rea - Actus Reus can be continuing
(Church, R v (1965) CA)

9
R v Caldwell (1981)
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D took V (a married woman) to a van for sexual purposes. V mocked D and slapped
him D knocked V unconscious. Unable to revive her he panicked and threw her into a
river. V drowned.
Held: D's conduct amounted to a series of acts, which culminated in her death and
thus constituted manslaughter. 
Edmund Davies:
'an unlawful act causing the death of another cannot, simply because it is an unlawful
act, render a manslaughter verdict inevitable. For such a verdict inexorably to
follow, the unlawful act must be such as all sober and reasonable people would
inevitably recognise must subject the other person to, at least, the risk of some harm
resulting therefrom, albeit not serious harm.'
”A grosser case of criminal negligence it would be difficult to imagine.”
Thus: Guilty of manslaughter.
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References

1. Bakaoukas, Michael. "The conceptualisation of 'Crime' in Classical Greek Antiquity:


From the ancient Greek 'crime' (krima) as an intellectual error to the christian 'crime'
(crimen) as a moral sin." ERCES (European and International research group on crime,
Social Philosophy and Ethics). 2005. 
2. Ernest Klein, Klein's Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language
3. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crime
4. Wilkins v. U. S
5. R v Gibbins and Proctor (1918)
6. R v Chattaway (1922)
7. R v Cheshire (1991)
8. R v Cunningham (1957)
9. R v Caldwell (1981)
10. DPP v Smith [1961] AC 290 
11. R v Hyam [1975] AC 55
12. R v Hancock & Shankland [1985] 3 WLR 1014
13. AG's Ref (No. 4 of 1980) [1981] CA
14. Church, R v (1965) CA
15. https://sixthformlaw.info/02_cases/mod3a/cases_03_actus_contemporaneity.htm
16. https://www.allaboutlaw.co.uk/stage/study-help/criminal-law-actus-reus-mens-rea
17. http://e-lawresources.co.uk/Mens-rea-intention.php