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Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea – “the act will not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty” Actus Reus and Mens Rea THE ELEMENTS OF.

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Presentation on theme: "Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea – “the act will not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty” Actus Reus and Mens Rea THE ELEMENTS OF."— Presentation transcript:

1 Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea – “the act will not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty” Actus Reus and Mens Rea THE ELEMENTS OF A CRIME

2 The Criminal Code Equation
For an offence to be considered a crime, two elements must exist: ACTUS REUS (the physical element, or guilty action) and MENS REA (the mental element, or guilty mind). ACTUS REUS + MENS REA = A CRIME


4 ACTUS REUS Latin for the guilty action or deed;
The action must be VOLUNTARY Voluntary Action: i.e. if you argue with someone and then punch them in the face, you have committed the criminal act of assault (punching them in the face was an action you chose, or voluntarily, committed). The action can also be an OMISSION or a STATE OF BEING. Omission: failing to do something, i.e. leaving the scene of an accident, or failing to provide the necessities of life, are both considered to be crimes. State of Being: i.e. being in the possession of something illegal or being somewhere illegal, such as a betting house or a bawdy house.

5 MENS REA Latin for “a guilty mind”;
includes: KNOWLEDGE, INTENT, RECKLESSNESS, and WILLFUL BLINDNESS - the act was intentional and the accused knew it was wrong, was negligent, reckless, or willfully blind. Can be established by showing that the accused had the intent to commit the offence or knowledge that what he/she did was wrong.

6 MENS REA - INTENT The true purpose of an act; a state of mind in which someone desires to carry out a wrongful action, knows what the results will be, is reckless regarding the consequences, or should have foreseen the results of the wrongful act. For example: George punches Mark in the face and ends up killing him. George would be guilty of manslaughter because he intended to cause Mark harm (it doesn’t matter that he only intended to harm him, the result of his action was that he killed him). Some people, i.e. people with mental disorders, minors, infants, and those under the influence of alcohol or drugs, by law are considered incapable of forming the intent necessary to commit an offence.

MOTIVE is the reason for committing an offence, but does NOT establish the guilt of the accused and is NOT the same as intent. INTENT refers to that person's state of mind and willingness to break the law.

8 INTENT CONTINUED... There are 2 kinds of intent; the type of intent varies depending on how the crime is defined in the Criminal Code: General Intent – The desire to commit a wrongful act, with no ulterior motive or purpose. For example, if Josh strikes Scott because he is angry with him, he has the general intent to commit the assault. To establish mens rea, the Crown just needs to prove that Josh struck Scott. Specific Intent – The desire to commit one wrongful act for the sake of accomplishing another. For example, if Josh strikes Scott with the intent of stealing his wallet, he has the specific intent to commit a robbery. To prove mens rea for robbery, the Crown would have to prove that he not only assaulted him, but he did so with the specific intent of stealing from him.

9 Significance of the different types of intent:
General intent is easier to prove, i.e. manslaughter (unintentional homicide) is easier to prove than murder (intentional, planned and deliberate homicide). Some defences are more likely to succeed against specific intent offences, i.e. intoxication. If you are extremely intoxicated and you break into a store and knock out the security guard, you could be charged with break and entering with the intent to commit robbery. You could plead not guilty due to intoxication, and the judge might rule in your favour, citing that you were too impaired to be able to form the necessary intent to actually commit the robbery.

10 MENS REA – KNOWLEDGE (having a criminal state of mind)
The awareness of certain facts, i.e. knowing what you are doing is illegal, that can be used to establish the necessary mens rea for a conviction. ignorance is not allowed as an excuse for committing an offence. For example, if you use a stolen credit card, the Crown only has to prove that you used the credit card.

acting carelessly without regard for the consequences of your actions. You may not intend to harm someone, but if you understand the risks and proceed to act anyway, mens rea would exist. i.e. reckless driving. .

12 WILLFUL BLINDNESS The act of deliberately choosing to ignore certain facts or information results when a person is aware of the need for some inquiry but declines to make the inquiry because he/she does not wish to know the truth. i.e. if Kianja is offered $100 to deliver a package a couple of blocks away for Cameron, a known drug dealer, but she does not ask what is in the package, she could be charged and convicted of drug trafficking

Wanton and reckless disregard for the lives and safety of other people; If a reasonable, objective analysis were made, and the act would carry the risk of harm, then the person is negligent. i.e. R. V. Tutton and Tutton case (parents did not provide medical treatment needed for son to live) – negligence was criminal because it resulted in the death of their son.

Some offences called “regulatory offences” do not require proof of mens rea They: Are set up for the general protection of the public rather than to punish offenders; have lesser penalties; Do not carry the stigma associated with the conviction of a criminal offence. The courts must decide with what type of offence they wish to proceed. These types of offences include speeding and polluting the environment, and are classified as either STRICT or ABSOLUTE LIABILITY offences

Only require proof that the act was committed for a conviction; the accused can claim the defence of DUE DILIGENCE - that he/she took care not to commit the offence or honestly believed in a mistaken set of facts that would have rendered the act or omission innocent, if they were true.

due diligence is not accepted as an excuse - if the accused committed the actus reus, he or she is guilty no matter what. little opportunity for any defence, and are in place to protect the public. Because there is little opportunity for a successful defence, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a prison term was unconstitutional for any absolute liability offence.

17 INCOMPLETE CRIMES – mens rea may not explicitly exist, but there is an indicator of a criminal mind
These are crimes where the actus reus and mens rea might not exist. Includes ATTEMPT and CONSPIRACY

18 ATTEMPT someone who attempts but fails to carry out an intended crime is still considered to be a danger to society. an attempt requires proof that there was intent to commit the offence The actus reus begins at the moment preparation turns into some step towards committing the offence. The Crown just has to show the accused had the necessary intent and took some obvious steps towards committing the crime. For example, in a terrorist bombing, if the actual bombing doesn’t take place, it is considered an attempt if the bomb has been constructed.

19 CONSPIRACY an agreement between two or more people to carry out an unlawful action, or to perform a lawful action by unlawful means. Occurs even if the act does not actually occur and even if the parties involved changed their minds or don’t get the opportunity to actually commit the act. must be serious intention by both parties - jokes or threats don’t count penalty is generally the same as for the offence that was the object of the conspiracy.

20 ASSIGNMENT: Read the cases on the handout provided and for each case:
State the actus reus (if it exists); State the mens rea (if it exists); State whether or not you would find the accused guilty or not guilty, and explain why (briefly). R. v. Parks, page R. v. Collins and French, page 127 R. v. Williams q. 1 – 4, page 128

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