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Flashcards in Elements of a Crime Deck (3)
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What is an actus reus?

It is the conduct element and can be a positive act or an omission when there is a duty to act. Sometimes, it is simply 'being there' (state of affairs).


Why is there a law on actus reus?

1. Innocent people are harmed in different ways.
2. To protect, liability must be drawn flexibly.
3. It is normally accompanied by an appropriate mens rea, so criminal law is built on fault.


Explain the different aspects of the actus reus, and illustrate (if possible) with case examples.

One aspect is the need for a voluntary act. The defendant must have control over what they do or fail to do. This can be hard to decide when the line is crossed.

Another aspect is being there/state of affairs. It is the idea that the defendant is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It can seem very unjust, and is rare.
In Larsonneur (1933), D was told to leave the UK. She left but was deported back to the UK. She was arrested and convicted of being 'an alien'.
In Winzar (1983), D was taken to hospital, but when found to be simply drunk, was told to leave. He was found in a corridor; the police were called and they sat him on the side of the road. He was convicted of being drunk on the highway.

The third aspect is the result of the actus reus i.e. liability is determined by the consequence the actus reus leads to. It can be hard to decide on the most appropriate charge.