Criminal Liability Research Paper

Sophie was driving her car when it staled at traffic lights. Edward was in the car behind Sophie, and got out of his car shouting at Sophie, who then opened her car door. Edward then dragged her out of her car and onto the ground. He kicked her in the ribs, causing a fracture and severe bruising. Despite best advice, she did not go to the hospital. Two days later Sophie was rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung, which had to be removed. 

Criminal Liability is based on the concept of Actus Reus including Causation and Mens Rea. Briefly explain these terms and how causation would apply to the situation. Answer The actus reus describes the persons act or omission in the situation. An example of the actus reus for assault would be in the case of R v Savage (1991) when D was involved in an argument in a pub, and threw a pint of beer over V. The glass supposedly slipped from her hand and caused cuts to V's wrist.

D's was convicted for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. A case to show actus reus for battery would be Cole v Turner (1704) where the judge stated, "In an action for battery, the least touching of another in anger is a battery. If two people meet in a narrow passage, there is no battery if one gently touches the other without violence or harm. But if one uses violence to force his way rudely past the other, that is a battery. " The actus reus may be not an act but rather a failure to act, sometimes referred to as an omission.

An example of this would be in R v Pittwood (1902) when the level crossing keeper left open the crossing gate. This resulted in the death of a carter whose cart was struck by a train. D was convicted of manslaughter because he had a responsibility to make sure the crossing gate was closed. Mens rea is the criminal's guilty state of mind, this may be intention or recklessness In strict liability offences, it may not be necessary to prove any mens rea. An example of recklessness would be in R v Venna (1975) when a man was being arrested outside a pub.

He kicked out and struck a police officer, breaking his hand. D was convicted of assault and his conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal. In a conviction, harm must have been caused by the defendant's act. R v White (1910) is an example of how this can be difficult to determine. Meaning to kill his mother, D put a few drops of cyanide into her drink. However, before drinking, his mother died of a heart attack. He was charged with of murder, but because he had not actually caused his mother's death, he was convicted of attempted murder.

In the scenario above, D would argue that Sophie is responsible for her lung having to be removed because she refused to go to hospital after the incident. However, in cases such as R v Smith when two soldiers D and V were involved in a fight in barracks, in which D stabbed V with his bayonet. V was taken to the first aid post, but on the way he was dropped twice, the medical officer was then too busy and took some time to get to V. V died about two hours after the stabbing, but had he been given proper treatment he would probably have recovered. Smith was charged with murder.

The treatment he was given was thoroughly bad and might well have affected his chances of recovery, but medical treatment correct or not does not break the chain of causation. If at the time of death the original wound is the cause, then death can be said to be a result of D's actions. Only when the second cause of death is so overwhelming as to make the original wound merely part of the history can it be said that death does not flow from the wound. This suggests that because Sophie's lung was removed due to wounds caused by Edward, it is therefore Edward who is responsible.

In R v Blaue (1975), D stabbed a woman and punctured her lung. At the hospital, she was told she would need a blood transfusion to, but refused this because of her religious beliefs. She died next day, and D was convicted of manslaughter. His appeal against conviction was dismissed. Those who use violence on other people must take their victims as they find them. This too applies to the scenario of Sophie. She refused to go to hospital because of her own reasons. Edward is most likely to be held guilty of Grievous Bodily Harm because he did in fact cause Sophie's future disability.