Criminal Acts of Omission

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Criminal acts are the first principle of liability of a crime. We punish people for what they do, not for who they are. (Samaha, 2008, p. 85) The reason that an act is the first principle is because it is the easiest to prove. While many people first have thoughts of committing an act it is crazy to think that we could prove this. It’s impossible to prove mental attitude by itself, plus thoughts alone do not hurt anyone. (Samaha, 2008, p. 85) You might have an understanding now of why it is a requirement for a criminal act to be present to punish for the crime. We have talked about the voluntary act requirement which states that a voluntary act is an act that you willingly perform of your own accord without persuasion. (Diducthat, 2010) While we support the punishment for these criminals who commit crimes that cause harm to others, what about the people who just stand around and do nothing while bad things are happening around them?

Why don’t people feel the need to act in particular situations? When they fail to act they are creating criminal acts in the form of omissions. The definition of criminal omission takes two different forms: (1) mere failure to act, usually the failure to report something required by law or (2) failure to intervene in order to prevent serious harm. (Samaha, 2008, p. 91) Generally there is no criminal liability for failing to act in a certain situation. (Can a Failure to Act make an Individual Guilty in the eyes of the Law?, 2010) When you carry the legal responsibility to act in a situation you have different situations that bind you to these duties. These three situations are statutes, contracts, and special relationships. Statutes are the basis for legal duties to report-for example, the duty to file income tax returns, report accidents and childhood abuse, and register firearms. Individuals can also contract to perform duties; for example, law enforcement...
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