Result crimes

The components of a criminal offence are the actus reus and the mens rea.

 

The components of a criminal offence are the actus reus and the mens rea.

Actus reus refers to the physical element required for criminal liability, the 'guilty act'. This can comprise of an act, an omission or a state of affairs. The defendant has to have acted voluntarily. If he has no control over his actions he can not have committed the actus reus. Automatism can be used as a defence if the defendant is not aware of or not in control of his actions.

Ordinarily we think of separating crimes into three types, according to their requisite actus reus. The types are usually considered to be action crimes, omissions and state of affairs crimes. The idea behind the concept of 'result' crimes is that some crimes are distinguishable in that they require a particular consequence or result for the offence to have been committed. Furthermore as one would expect the result must arise from the accused's behaviour. To be able to ascertain that a defendant can be guilty of a result crime it has to be established that there is a factual link between his conduct and the alleged result he is said to have caused.

Examples of 'result' crimes include causing death by dangerous driving and murder, where the accused's act must bring about the death of a human being. The result or consequence is something over and above what may be required for a 'conduct' crime such as dangerous driving where the actus reus is the prohibited conduct itself and there is no need to establish a consequence of the act.

 

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