What is a crime? Any act or omission of an act that is prohibited and punishable by federal statute.
In general, four conditions must apply: Act considered wrong by society Act causes harm to society in general or those who need protection Harm must be serious Remedy must be handled by the criminal justice system
Criminal Law Protect people and property Maintain order Preserve standards of public decency
Federal Law Criminal Code of Canada Youth Criminal Justice Act Controlled Drugs and Substances Act Customs Act Competition Act Food and Drug Act Income Tax Act
Provincial Law Considered “quasi-criminal” law (covers less serious offences, mostly fines) Highway/Traffic Act Liquor Control Act Wildlife Act
To convict a person in Canada…. The Crown must prove that two things existed at the time of the offence: 1. The act itself 2. The intention to commit the act
Actus Reas “The guilty act” demonstrates a voluntary action, omission, or state of being that is prohibited by law. “Mens Rea “The guilty mind” demonstrates that the act was intentional, knowing, negligent, reckless, or wilfully blind. CRIME
Actus Reas Latin meaning “the guilty action” refers to the physical act involved in committing the offence the Criminal Code defines the wrongful act in a clear and precise fashion so that we understand what is law in most cases a criminal act must be completed to qualify as an offense. In some cases failure to do something can be an offense
There are also offenses for which the actus reas is a “state of being”--ex: possession of stolen goods Actus reas must be voluntary--not forced by another person
Mens Rea Latin for “the guilty mind” the term implies moral guilt--that the accused deliberately did something he/she knew was wrong can be established by showing the accused had: 1. intent to commit an offense OR 2. Knowledge that what he/she did was against the law
INTENT Means that a person meant to do something wrong did not care about the consequences and knew (or could figure out) the results of their actions There are two kinds of intent in Canadian Law: General intent: the desire to commit the offense with no other purpose Specific intent: when someone commits and act with the purpose of accomplishing another General intent cases are easier to prove
NOTE: INTENT IS NOT THE SAME AS MOTIVE. A motive is the reason someone commits a crime while intent refers to that person’s state of mind and willingness to break the law.
Knowledge In some cases Crown can establish knowledge to establish guilt the Crown only has to establish that the accused knew certain facts (for example--in the case of circulating a forged $20--they only need to prove you knew it was fake, not that you created it)
Criminal Negligence Means that the accused failed to take precautions that any reasonable person would take reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others can be either doing something or neglecting to do something ex: leaving a gun where a child could have access
Recklessness Consciously taking an unjustifiable risk that a reasonable person would not ex: not wearing glasses while driving a car, despite the fact that you have very poor vision
Wilful Blindness Involves deliberately closing your mind to the possible consequences of your actions you should know but you do not want to know the truth
In some cases (less serious offenses) the Crown does not have to prove mens rea to win a conviction. Often against regulatory laws (environmental protection, workplace safety, hunting/fishing, traffic) The offenses can be grouped into two liability categories: Strict Liability and Absolute Liability
Strict Liability Accused may acknowledge the offence took place but offer defense of due diligence (which means they took every reasonable precaution) No possible defense Once the Crown has established the act the court finds the accused guilty. Usual penalty is a fine Absolute Liability
Due Diligence The defence that the accused took every reasonable precaution to avoid committing a particular offence.
Involvement in a crime Perpetrator- person who commits the crime. Parties to an offence- people indirectly involved in committing a crime. Aiding- a criminal offence that involves helping a perpetrator commit a crime. Abetting- crime of encouraging the perpetrator to commit an offence.
Involvement continued Counselling- crime involved in advising, recommending or persuading a person to commit a crime. Accessory after the fact- someone who knowingly receives, comforts, or assists a perpetrator in escaping from the police. Attempt- The intention to commit a crime, even when the crime is not completed. Conspiracy- Agreement between 2 or more people to carry out an illegal act.