Criminal Law Analysis Paper Example: The Deer Act

In order to establish Dinesh's criminal liability, it is essential we breakdown the constituents of the offence, i. e. the actus reus and mens rea. In this case, the actus reus of the offence contrary to s11 (7) (a) of the Deer Act is, 'obstructing any authorised officer or constable making an inspection' while the mens rea is, 'intentionally' performing the actus reus of the offence. So is Dinesh guilty of the offence?

Clearly, Dinesh has satisfied the actus reus of the offence by ignoring the officer's request to inspect the outhouse where he was accustomed to hang venison because he did not want the officer to discover that the outhouse contained pornographic magazines, 'the sale of which was one of his sidelines'. Dinesh is obstructing the officer in the execution of his duty by ignoring the officer's request. It was established in Lewis v Cox11 that any conduct which actually prevents a constable from carrying out his duty or makes it difficult for him to do so amounts to obstructing him. So did Dinesh have the required mens rea of the offence?

Yes, Dinesh 'intentionally' obstructed the officer. Dinesh's aim was to obstruct the officer to prevent him from discovering that the outhouse contained pornographic magazines. In Mohan12, the CA defined intention as a 'decision to bring about, insofar as it lies within the accused's power (a particular consequence), no matter whether the accused desired the consequence of his act or not'. This is the accused's direct intention (aim or purpose). In achieving his desired objective (preventing the discovery of the porn magazines in the outhouse), Dinesh had the direct intention to obstruct the police officer making an inspection.

The actus reus of the s11(7)(b) of the Deer Act is 'make or causes to be made in a record book any entry which is false or misleading in a material particular'. Earl clearly committed the actus reus of the offence by making a number of false entries as to the number of carcasses of venison which he had purchased. However, did Earl 'knowingly' or 'recklessly' make or cause to be made in his record book any entry which is false or misleading in a material particular? 'Knowingly' , in this context has 3 different degrees.

The first, actual knowledge where principal authority in Roper v Taylor's Central Garages13 where Devlin J said actual knowledge is when the accused knows for a fact that something exists or is true. The second, wilful blindness, which Lord Bridge in Westminster CC v Croyalgrange Ltd14 said that 'knowledge could be based on evidence that the defendant had deliberately shut his eyes to the obvious or refrained from enquiring because he suspected the truth but did not have his suspicions confirmed'.

The third is constructive knowledge which occurs when the accused ought as a reasonable person to have made inquiries. Recklessness in the definition of an offence always means subjective recklessness, as Caldwell recklessness was overruled in October in G. In s11(7)(b) 'recklessly' means the conscious taking of an unjustified risk. A person acts with subjective recklessness as to a consequence of a deliberate act of his if, when he carries out that act, he actually foresees that there's a risk and that consequence may possibly result from his act and in all the circumstances, it is unjustified (i.

e. unreasonable) for him to take the risk of it occurring. In my opinion, Earl has 'recklessly' made in a record book an entry which is false, as his reliance on the calculating machine (when he clearly knows that he is colour blind) is an unjustified risk. An accused would not be reckless where he acted under some excusable or understandable mistake, or where his capacity to appreciate risks are adversely affected by some condition not involving fault on his part.

Using this approach, the schizophrenic tramp in R v Stephenson15 would still not be convicted of criminal damage, even though he failed to recognise a risk that was obvious to the reasonable man. However, if Earl did not know he was colour blind, then his act is excusable and understandable, but when he knows that he is colour blind and still goes ahead to carry out a task which involves the use of colour to interpret the proper functioning of the calculating machine, is an unjustified risk, thereby making him criminally liable under s11(7)(b) of the Deer Act 1991.


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