Actus Reus And Mens Sit Rea Case Study

Topics: Criminal law, Crime, Law, Criminal justice, Actus reus, Police / Pages: 7 (1629 words) / Published: Jan 10th, 2018
Traditionally within common law, for one to commit a crime and to be convicted as such, it must be apparent beyond all doubt that the elements of Actus Reus and Mens rea are present; this being a physical element, accompanied by a mental element, of which one has a blameworthy or culpable state of mind. British law strictly abides by the notion “Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea”
Nonetheless, when culpable of a crime, it is questionable as to such, whether one has a guilty mind, with one querying whether the accused exhibits direct intention as seen in Smith (1960) and Moloney (1985) or whether an individual does not desire a specific result to occur, yet still was aware it may happen, forming indirect intention seen in R v Woolin
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Yet when applying Caldwell’s recklessness, one may understand the act was not that of an evil one as intention and foreseeability were not apparent, thus, it may not be seen to condemn the appellant for their actions. One may further critic Caldwell as any reasonable person would not fail to think about the consequence.
On the contrary in the case of R v Parker , the defendant had tried to use a street telephone booth to make a call due to issues he encountered on his journey home. In a fit of rage, the defendant slammed the handset onto the telephone as he failed to make a call, causing damage to the phonebooth. He argued that he had not anticipated the risk of damage to the telephone. It was questioned as to what extent does the notion of failing to contemplate risk extend as to charging the appellant of recklessness under s.1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971
The courts, after applying a subjective approach in Cunningham and an objective test in Caldwell , later referred back to the foremost ruling on recklessness in RvG
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Subsequently, they threw the newspapers underneath a wheelie bin and the fire spread to the shop and the surrounding buildings causing £1 million worth of damage. It was held that the defendants did not value or take into account the severity of the risks which had been caused owing to the fire spreading, but the risk would have been obvious to a reasonable person or adult. The ruling of R v G was guided in respect to the objective test seen in Caldwell given that the failure to think of an obvious risk gave sufficient rise for mens rea for the offence and the jury convicted both the

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