Voluntary act + mens rea = result
A. Must be a voluntary act (actus reus)
1. Does not include:
b. acts done while sleepwalking (but hard to get jury to believe it)
c. acts done while under hypnosis (but hard to get jury to believe it)
d. reflex or convulsions
e. words, usually. But may in cases of conspiracy or aiding and abetting a crime.
2. May be very little action, such as mere possession (drug cases).
3. An omission (failure to act) can be criminal if ( was under a legal duty to act.
a. Apparent caregiver must have had a legal duty (either by contract or by voluntarily assuming the duty to care) to act before she can be found to have breached duty to care for a friend’s kid who starved to death. Jones v. U.S., D.C. 1926.
b. Duties may be imposed by:
i. Statutes – statute imposes a duty to care for another
ii. Relationships – one stands in a certain status relationship to another
x. State v. Walden, N.C., 1982, mom can’t watch friend beat her baby.
xx. Commonwealth v. Twitchell, Mass. 1993, religious convictions not an excuse for parents not getting medical care for child.
xxx. People v. Heitzman, Cal. 1994, woman did not have a legal duty to control her brothers in the care of her father.
xv. Police officers have no relationship w/ and thus, no duty to protect a particular victim (Rodney King, 1991, watched beating from afar).
iii. Contracts – one assumes a contractual duty to care for another.
iv. Voluntary assumption – one cares for another and secludes helpless person to prevent others from rendering aid (putting person in worse position by that action).
c. No obligation to rescue (except in Vermont).
i. It’s legally safer not to help b/c you don’t want to leave person worse off. But you can start to help and stop as long as person isn’t left worse off.... [continues]
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(2011, 10). Criminal Law. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 2011, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Criminal-Law-818517.html
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