Chapter 6 Vocab Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chapter 6 Vocab Deck (27):


It is the crime of encouraging the perpetrator to commit a crime without providing physical assistance. For example, if someone is present at a physical assault and encourages the beating but does not participate, this individual can be considered partly responsible for the crime through abetting. One is not criminally responsible for abetting just because he/she knows of the crime or is there at the scene. One must be aware that an illegal action was intended and must have committed some action that helped the perpetrator. However, presence at the time the offence happened can be used as evidence with abetting if this is accompanied with other factors, namely prior knowledge of the perpetrator's intention to commit the offence.


absolute liability offences

These are offences that do not need mens rea and to which the accused can offer no defence. The court must find the accused guilty. Examples of these offences include driving without a licence or going over the speed limit. Since offenders can offer no defence to such a charge once facts have been reviewed, the Supreme Court has established that they cannot be sentenced to jail for these illegal actions. The main penalty is usually a fine.


accessory after the fact

It is one who "knowingly receives, comforts, or helps a perpetrator escape from the police." For example, a perpetrator caught shoplifting was injured after fighting with a security guard. She arrives at her friend's apartment and her friend lets her stay there and provides her with food, clothing and first aid. The friend who helped her is then charged with being an accessory after the fact as she helped her perpetrator friend, knowing she had committed a crime.


actus reus

Actus reus means “the guilty act” which signifies a voluntary physical action (e.g., hitting someone during an argument), omission (e.g., starving a child to death), or current state of being (e.g., possession of breaking and entering tools, stolen goods or child pornography) that is prohibited by Canadian law. The Criminal Code of Canada clearly defines these prohibited acts, so citizens understand what is considered unjust in society. Criminal actions must be completed to be considered an offence. For example, if you thought of striking someone but the person saw you were angry and ran away, you would not be guilty of assault. Actus reus must be voluntary, not forced upon you by another person.



In criminal law, aiding is the crime of helping a perpetrator commit a crime. To help a perpetrator, one does not have to be there when the crime is actually committed. Such individuals are known as parties to an offence. For example, if someone provides a key to the perpetrator to break into a store but does not physically participate in the actual robbery, the individual can still be considered partly responsible for the crime.



Attempt is where one intends to commit an illegal action/crime (mens rea) but the guilty action (actus reus) is never completed. An attempt, although not requiring actus reus, still includes the idea that the guilty act begins the moment preparation turns into an action required to carry out the crime. Mens rea can also be established as happening at the start of an illegal action. To prove someone guilty of a criminal attempt, the Crown must show that the accused had the necessary intent and took steps towards carrying out the crime. For example, if someone builds a bomb but then does not carry out the bombing, they can be charged with attempt.



Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime (unlike attempt), even if the action does not actually happen. Even if the perpetrators change their minds or do not carry out the action, they can still be found criminally responsible for conspiracy as they once intended to commit the crime. For example, if someone conspires with another or a group to carry out a bombing but never create the bomb, they can still be charged with conspiracy.



This is the crime that consists of advising, recommending, or persuading someone to carry out a criminal offence. One who counsels does not have to be at the crime scene to be found guilty. For example, someone commits the illegal action/crime of counselling an individual to steal when she persuades that individual to steal from the store where she herself works and instructs on the best method to carry out the crime successfully.



It is "an act or omission of an act that is is prohibited and punishable by federal statute." "Omission of an act" means that some crimes are not acts but are the failure to act in some situations. For example, a witness who does not act to stop a crime, or someone who fails to stay at the scene of a crime or a motor vehicle accident that they were involved in, can be charged with a criminal offence. There are four conditions necessary to be considered a crime. 1. the act is considered wrong by society 2. the act causes harm to society in general or to those who need protection 3. the harm must be serious 4. the remedy must be handled by criminal justice system


criminal law

It is the set of laws that "prohibit and punish acts that injure individual people, property, and society as a whole." The main goals of criminal law are as follows: to protect people and property; to maintain order; and to preserve standards of public decency.


criminal negligence

It is the wanton or reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others, at times causing serious injury or death. The Crown can establish mens rea ("the guilty mind") by showing that the person charged showed "wanton or reckless disregard." Everyone is criminally negligent who "in doing anything or in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of others." For example, Walkerton water contamination with E.coli where employees of the water treatment facility failed to take action resulting with many becoming sick, or when a parent leaves a loaded gun lying around the house where his child could find it and the child then accidentally shoot someone. Being charged with criminal negligence means that the common sense, careful precautions that anyone else would have undertaken to prevent causing harm to another person, have not been carried out.


due diligence

It is the defence that the person charged took every reasonable precaution to prevent a crime from being committed. Due diligence is often used to defend the accused from a strict liability offence where mens rea is not required. These offences often arise in regulatory law where federal and provincial statues are created to protect the public. For example, if a company takes precautions against environmental pollution, but then ends up polluting a river during heavy rains, the defence can plead due diligence and be found innocent.


general intent

It is the desire to perpetrate an illegal action, with no other additional motive or purpose. For example, when someone hits another person because he is angry with him and wants to display his anger physically, then he has the general intent to commit assault. The Crown only has to prove that the individual hit the other person to establish mens rea ("guilty action").



It refers to the state of mind of someone who desires to commit an illegal action, knows what the outcome will be, and is reckless regarding the consequences. The Criminal Code most often uses words such as willfully and intentionally to signify intent. For example, assault is defined under s. 265 (1)(a) as "applies force intentionally." The word "intentionally" implies the mens rea for the crime of assault.



This is an awareness of specific facts that can be used to establish mens rea. For example, if someone knows a document or money is forged, and then uses, deals, or acts upon it, then this individual is guilty of the crime of circulating a forged document or money. The Crown has to establish the fact that the person charged knew the document was forged. Establishing this fact would therefore establish mens rea.



It is the legal responsibility for an illegal action. There are two types of liability offences, strict liability and absolute liability offences. These offences often are against regulatory laws established in federal or provincial statues designed to protect the public welfare. There are some major differences between a strict liability offence and an absolute liability offence. While both do not require mens rea, with respect to strict liability offences, the accused can defend himself with the concept of due diligence. Due diligence is the defence that the accused took every reasonable precaution. As a result, they might not experience any liability for their actions. Examples of strict liability offences include offences pertaining to environmental pollution where companies have tried to protect the environment before the polluting events occurred. With respect to absolute liability offences, the accused cannot defend his or herself. The court must find the accused guilty. Examples of these offences include driving without a licence or going over the speed limit.


mens rea

It is the deliberate intention to perpetrate an illegal action, with reckless disregard for the consequences. It means “the guilty mind” (moral guilt) which conveys that the action was intentional, knowing, negligent, reckless, or willfully blind. Mens rea can be established by conveying that the person charged had the intention of committing the offence or knew that what he/she did was prohibited by law. Moreover, intent is proven if a person meant to commit an offence, was reckless regarding consequences, and the results were foreseeable.



It is the reason a person commits a crime. It is different from intent which refers to a person's state of mind and willingness to commit a crime. For example, a daughter murders her mother to receive an inheritance. Receiving an inheritance is the daughter's motive. This does not establish her mental state or intent to commit murder. In addition, while a motive could be useful evidence in a trial, it is not one of the elements of the offence that the Crown must prove to convict the one charged.


parties to an offence

They are people who are indirectly involved in perpetrating the illegal action, but may still be considered partly responsible for it. These people are linked to the crime since they have helped the perpetrator in some way, the person who actually committed the crime. Examples include the categories of aiding, abetting, counselling, and accessory after the fact.


party to common intention

It is the shared responsibility among criminals for any additional offences that are perpetrated during the crime they originally intended to commit. For example, if six people steal a security truck and one of them kills the hijacked driver, all six people could be charged with murder as well.



This is the person who actually commits the crime. When there is more than a single person involved in a crime, they are called co-perpetrators. For example, if one robber walks into a bank and holds the teller at gunpoint while the other collects the cash, they are known as co-perpetrators. One must be present at the crime scene to be called a perpetrator or co-perpetrator.


quasi-criminal laws

These are "laws covering less serious offences at the provincial or municipal level, most often punishable by fines." For example, quasi-criminal laws fall under provincial or municipal jurisdiction and are written in acts such as the Liquor Control Act, Highway Traffic Act, and Wildlife Act. These laws can differ from province to province.



It is taking an unjustifiable risk (demonstrating a lack of care) that a reasonable person would not take. For example, if you drive without the prescription glasses that require you to see clearly and cause an accident, the police could charge you with dangerous operation of a vehicle. You had the necessary intent to commit an illegal action since you acted recklessly.


regulatory laws

These laws are federal or provincial statutes intended to protect the welfare of the public. Examples include laws concerning environmental protection, workplace safety, hunting and fishing regulations, and traffic offences such as speeding. When establishing these laws, legislators have to include words such as willfully or with intent if they wish to have the Crown establish mens rea. When words like this are not included, it is assumed that these offences do not need mens rea. Many regulatory laws do not have to prove mens rea. For example, one can't face criminal charges for speeding.


specific intent

This is where one wants to perpetrate a crime for the purpose of achieving another crime. For example, a person hits someone with the intent of stealing something from the other person. The perpetrator has committed the illegal action of assault for the purpose of committing a theft. To prove mens rea for robbery, the Crown has to prove that the perpetrator assaulted the person as well as that he committed the assault with the purpose of committing theft.


strict liability offences

These are offences under regulatory laws that do not need mens rea but to which the person charged can defend themselves with due diligence. Due diligence is the defence that the accused took every reasonable precaution. As a result, they might not experience any liability for their actions. Examples of strict liability offences include offences pertaining to environmental pollution.


willful blindness

It is where one intentionally ignores the possible negative consequences to one's actions. You are considered willfully blind when you are aware of the need to make an inquiry, but do not because you do not want to learn the truth. You deliberately close your mind to the possible consequences of your actions. For example, being willfully blind to buying a stolen television set where the person selling uses an out-of-the-way location and the TV set may even have someone's name on it. You intentionally ignore these hints.