Chapter 2- Criminal Law Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chapter 2- Criminal Law Deck (40)
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How is crime defined?

A crime can be described as an act or omission that is against an existing law, harmful to an individual or society as a whole and punishable by law.


What is a victimless crime? Provide an example.

A crime that can be seen as harming to no-one other than the person committing the act. For example, the use of drugs may not be harmful to anyone other than the person using the drugs.


Elements of a crime-

Burden of proof
Standard of proof
Presumption of innocence
Age of criminal responsibility


Burden of proof-

The prosecution has the burden of proving that the accused is guilty (onus of proof). The accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


Standard of proof-

The prosecution must prove that the alleged offender is guilty of a crime beyond reasonable doubt.


Presumption of innocence-

A person is presumed to be innocent until he or she is proved to be guilty.


Age of criminal responsibility-

It is presumed that a child under the age of 10 years cannot form the intention to commit a crime, therefore cannot be charged with committing a crime. It is also assumed that a child between the ages of 10 & 14 is mentally incapable of committing a crime (Doli Incapax). This though can be overturned if it can be shown that the child had the mischievous disposition and knowledge that he/she was doing wrong.


Summary offence, example:

Summary offences less serious in nature criminal offences that are heard in the Magistrates Court. (Parking fine contest, trespass, drink-driving)


Indictable offences, example:

Indictable offences are more serious criminal offences that can be heard before a judge and jury. (Culpable driving, murder, rape)


Indictable offences heard summarily, example:

Indictable offences heard summarily are indictable offences that can be heard in the Magistrates Court as if they were summary offences. ( theft up to a certain amount)


What is a strict liability of a crime?

This means that there is no necessity to prove intention to commit the crime for a person to be found guilty. Examples include: traffic offences, serving liquor to an under age person.


Can juries return a majority verdict? Explain.

The jury must first attempt to reach a unanimous verdict. If not possible, a majority verdict consisting of 11 of 12 is acceptable for criminal offences other than murder, treason, trafficking a large commercial au airy of drugs. If not reached, the jury is said to be a hung jury.


Define murder-

Murder is the unlawful killing of another person with malice aforethought, by a person who is of the age of discretion and of sound mind.


Elements that must exist for a person to be guilty of murder:

The killing was unlawful
The accused was a person over the age of discretion
The victim was a human being
The accused was a person of sound mind
Malice aforethought existed


Elements of murder- The killing was unlawful.

The accused did not have a lawful reason for causing another person's death.


Elements of murder- The accused was a person over the age of discretion.

Must be at least 10 years of age.


Elements of murder- The victim was a human being.

Not an animal


Elements of murder- The accused was a person of sound mind.

The accused's actions must be voluntary, conscious and deliberate. Someone with mental disability may not be of sound mind.


Elements of murder- Malice Aforethought existed.

The intention to commit the crime. To exist, the accused must have acted voluntarily and have either the:
Intention to kill and or inflict serious injury
Reckless indifference
Intention to assault a person who was trying to make a lawful arrest, which resulted in a person's death.


What is the age of criminal responsibility?

Children below the age of 10 are not liable for crimes, between the ages of 10 & 14 it must be proven that the child knew the difference between right and wrong. After this age a child/adult can be charged with committing a crime.m


Criminal Negligence (duty of care breached):

Somebody fails to provide a reasonable standard of care. Reasonably foreseeable a loss of life could occur.


Unlawful acts:

Link between dangerous act and loss of life. The accused intended the act though not the death. A reasonable person would have foreseen the possibility of a loss of life.


Define manslaughter-

Is when a loss of life has occured, but not with the intent to kill as a result of a dangerous act.


Describe the defence to homicide of self-defence. When could self defence be seen as reasonable?

The accused must prove he or she:
~ had a belief that it was necessary to act to defend themselves or another person from serious harm or injury.
~ had reasonable grounds for this belief
~ had reasonable belief that harm could occur. This involves past history, severity of action, plausibility test, immediacy of the harm etc.


What defences are their to murder?

Mental Impairment


Duress (defence) to murder:

Is where a person acts under duress when they reasonable believe that:
- a threat to harm (self or members of family) will be carried out unless the person commits a crime.
- committing a crime is reasonable given the circumstances.


Mental impairment (defence) murder to murder:

This defence could be used if:
- the defendant did not know what he/she was doing, could not understand the nature of their actions.
- the defendant could not reason that the act was wrong.


Automatism (defence) to murder:

It must be shown that the defendant was unable to form the intent:
- Mist show that the act was involuntary (done by muscles not mind)
- confused/ sleep-walking
- loose control of the mind


Intoxication (defence) to murder:

In the case of the accused's intoxication being self-induced, the court will consider how a reasonable person who is not intoxicated would've acted. However, if the drunk ness was not self-induced, the court may consider the impact of the intoxication.


Accident (defence) to murder:

If the accused can prove that the death was an accident, this leads to an acquittal. (No men's rea) (didn't posses a guilty mind)