2 Using your knowledge of actus reus and mens rea, state which of the following persons would be guilty of committing an offence. Be sure to explain your answer.
3 Bernice, a six year old, was playing with her father’s rifle and she killed her friend Jack. No – Even though there is evidence of actus reus because Bernice committed an act prohibited by law which is taking the life of another person. Mens rea does not apply as there was no intent or motive. Bernice, being a young child probably does not have the mental capacity to know that playing with a rifle could be harmful.
4 Sergio, while hunting with some friends, was aiming at a dear, but accidentally shot another hunter, Jeff .Yes – a wrongful deed was committed (Actus reus), as killing a person is prohibited by law. Mens rea does apply in the sense that Sergio was reckless/careless because he probably knows that using a gun can be harmful if not properly controlled.
5 Ian, while cleaning his gun, thinking it was not loaded, pointed it at his friend Gil saying, “I’m going to shoot.” Ian pulled the trigger and a bullet which was stuck in the gun discharged killing Gil.Yes – Ian committed a wrongful deed (Actus reus) and killed Gil which is prohibited by law. He pulled the trigger killing Gil. Also, mens rea applies as there could be a strong claim that Ian intended to commit a crime as he pointed the gun at his friend and threatened to shoot. It could also be argued that Ian was being careless/acting reckless even if he did not intend to kill Gil because he should have checked to see if there were any bullets in the gun or lodged in the barrel.
6 Roger, while aiming to hit Tony in the leg with his slingshot, hit him on the temple and killed him. Yes – Actus reus applies as Roger had the intent to hit Tony (physical element) with his slingshot and this is an act prohibited by law (physical abuse). It can be assumed that Tony would not want to be hit by a slingshot. Mens rea is also applicable as there was intent to commit a crime (Roger was aiming the slingshot at Tony to hit him).
7 Ray, while walking through the park was frightened by Leonard Ray, while walking through the park was frightened by Leonard. Thinking Leonard had a gun, Ray pulled out a revolver and shot Leonard, killing him. Leonard had no weapon at all.Yes a wrongful deed (Actus reus) was committed as there was a definite physical action – killing him. The mental element (Mens rea) is also present as there was intent to harm by pulling out a gun.
8 Lucio, who escaped from a mental hospital, shot and killed his wife. Actus reus is evident as there was the action of Lucio killing his wife which is prohibited by law. However, the mental element (Mens rea) probably does not apply as Lucio probably has some mental disability that prevents him from thinking rationally.
9 Mrs. Farr, an eighty-five year old could not bear to see her aged husband suffer any longer so she gave him an overdose of sleeping pills.Yes – a wrongful deed (Actus reus) was committed as Mrs. Farr killed her husband. Taking another person’s life is prohibited by law. Mens rea, the mental element, is also evident in this case as there was intent to commit a crime and a motive. The intent was to give her husband an overdose of sleeping pills and the motive was to end her husband’s suffering.
10 James, a nineteen year old, was playing shooting at road signs James, a nineteen year old, was playing shooting at road signs. He accidentally shot and injured a passing cyclist.Yes – Actus reus, a wrongful deed is evident as possession of an armed weapon is illegal. Mens rea (the mental element) is also evident in the form of recklessness/carelessness. It can be inferred that using a gun can potentially harm somebody. In this case, the carelessness could be poor aim and not being able to control a loaded weapon.
11 Mark, who was continuously insulted by Austin, could not tolerate it any longer, so he shot him. Yes – Actus reus is evident in the form of a wrongful deed (using a gun to kill another person). Mens rea is also evident as it can be argued that there is intent to commit a crime and a motive for committing a crime. The intent was to shoot Austin and the motive was to stop the bullying.
12 Tina was cleaning her rifle Tina was cleaning her rifle. Chris walked into the room, and the gun went off accidentally killing Chris.Yes –actus reus applies in the sense that there was a wrongful deed and the act prohibited by law is the killing of another person. The mental element (mens rea) is recklessness/carelessness in the accidental death as reasonable care is not evident. Handling a shotgun is dangerous, especially if the necessary precautions haven’t been taken to ensure complete safety (informing others what you are doing, ensuring safety devices are working).
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