Partial Defense and Criminal Liability

Liability is in the first place either civil or criminal and in the second palce either remedial or penal. The rule of law is that the person who commits a wrong is said to be liable or responsible for it. In other words liability or responsibility is the bond that exists of necessity between the wrong doer and the remedy of the wrong. Here in this case the accused John has paranoid personality and is prone to depression.

He went to restaurant with the intention to shoot Tim who was the boyfriend Sandra. But he missed the target due to the interferance of other person and as the result the the lamp was shot dead and the fire exit of the restaurant was blocked with piles of resturant supplies which ultimately led the death of Tim and Sandra. In order to determine the liability of John as well as the Restaurant owner, it is necessary to analyse following leal aspects, which is closely related to this case.

A human act can be divided in to two types the activities outside the normal human control, the automatic reflexes and lastly the acts performed by persons suffering from some abnormal condition such as the act done in the course of a fit of automatism. In so far as, a man cannot help commiting acts in these categories it would be unjust and unreasonalble that he should be penalised for them. In this case the defence of such involuntariness against the absence of actus rea can be rebutted by actual or merely anticipated nature of the act.

It is clear that eventhough John has the paranoid personality and suffering from depression, it cannot be a valid defense on his part. The criminal liabilty usually enumerates that an unsussessful attempt is a ground of criminal liability, no less than acompetant offence. More over a man is responsible not for his act themselves but for his acts coupled with the mens rea or the guilty mind with which he does them- actus non facit reum,nisi mens sit rea.

The criminal liability may require the wrong ful act to done intentionally or with some further wrongful purpose in mind or it may suffice that it was done recklessly and in each case, the mental attitude of the doer is such as to make punishment effective. If he intentioanlly chose the wrong the penal discipline will furnish him with the suffient motive to choose the right instead in the future. (1) The modern definition of intention can be derived from a number of House of Lords’ decisions like R v Moloney (2)and R v Woollin.

(3) It is defined, as a defendant cannot be guilty of murder unless he is proved to have acted with intent to kill or do grievous bodily harm. Anyhow, here John went to shoot Tim and so there exists mens rea and he may be held liable in this regard. It is to be remebered that an intention is always the purpose with which the act is done such act is never excusable under criminal law.

1. J. Salmond and J. Fitzgerald, , Jurisprudence Publisher: Sweet & Maxwell; 12th edition , ISBN-10: 042105610X ,October 1966 2. R v Moloney [1985] 1 All ER 1025 3. R v Woollin [1998] 4 All ER 103 2 Another aspect, which can be applicable in order to the accused held liable, is —– malice-the wrongful intention or recklessness. It is an wrongful act done intentioanlly without just cause or excuse. In this way, John will be held liable for the fire damages to the restaurant as the criminal liability ensures the clause that the person is responsible for the act which occurred due to some further wrongful purpose in mind.

(2) In R v Kingston ,(3) the House of Lords confirmed that the accused was guilty of an offence requiring the prosecution to prove intention, although he was morally blameless. Mens rea is themental element, which varies from one offence to another; but generally, for the more serious offences, it comprises intention or recklessness, with intention being reserved for the most serious crimes. Here John can forwrad a strong defense of provocation which is in partial defese in nature. Under law the provocation isa partial defense which reduces the murder to mansluaghter.

This is arising from the situation that the there is no intention to cause harm to the victim but the act was due to the provocation. In recent case of R vs Rammage(4) the court has held that partial defense on the basis of provocation can be allowed. But here it can be seen that he was aware of Sandra’s relationship with Tim as she told him earlier . So his act was not due to a sudden provocation. (3) The law has enumerated a class of wrongs for which a man is responsible for their cat arose from negligence. Here a reasonable care should be taken to avoid acts or omissions, which can be reasonably foreseen.

This aspect mainly attribute to the famous case Donogue Vs Stevenson,(5), it further goes as the act or omission would be likely to injure your neighbor, i. e. persons who are so closely and directly affected by wrongdoer’s act that he ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when he is directing his mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question. ” Moreover, in Smith v Littlewoods Organization Ltd (6) it was held that the respondents were under a general duty to exercise reasonable care, lacking this care amounts to negligence.

Here in this case, the restaurant owner had to take some kind of care regarding his construction of his premises so that it would not cause any harm to the other persons. The incident might be occurred due to the act of John but Tim and Sandra died due to the the fire exit of the restaurant was blocked with piles of resturant supplies. So here the restaurant owner may he held liable for his act.   2. M. Allen, Textbook on Criminal Law ublisher: OUP Oxford; 9 edition ISBN-10: 0199215847, 19 Jul 2007

3. Great Britain Law Commission, Partial Defences to MurderPublisher: Stationery Office Books (TSO), ISBN-13: 978-0101630122 January 2004 3. R v Kingston [1994] 3 All ER 353 4. R vs Rammage, Defenses to Homocide, The Law Report 16 August 2005 5. Donogue Vs Stevenson (1932) A. C. 532, 580 6. Smith v Littlewoods Organization Ltd [1987] 1 All ER 710, HLT In nutshell, John can forward a partial defense based on doctrine of provocation but there is a little chance to him to find a way out of his liability. The existance of mens rea and wronful intention always prove that he is liable for his act .

Moreover there is no element of provocation is proved here as he was aware of the relationship of Tim and Sandra.. He is also liable for the damges to the restaurant. And the lack of duty of care and inability to foresee the harm will turn the retaurant owner to be held liable for his act of negilgence, which amounted to the death of Tim and Sandra.

Bibiliography 1. Great Britain Law Commission, Partial Defences to Murder: Report on a Reference Under Section 3(1)(E) of the Law Commissions ACT 1965 , Publisher: Stationery Office Books (TSO), ISBN-13: 978-0101630122 January 2004

2. H. L. A, Hart, Punishment and Responsibility, Essays in the Philosophy of Law, Oxford University Press 3. H. Salmond, (1996), Law of Torts, , p443 publisher: Sweet & Maxwell; 21Rev Ed edition ISBN-13: 978-0421533509, 24 Oct 1996 4. J. Salmond, and PJ . Fitzgerald, Jurisprudence Publisher: Sweet & Maxwell; 12th edition, ISBN-10: 042105610X, October 1966 5. Mike,M and G. Douglas Criminal Law (Blackstone’s Law Q & A) Publisher: Oxford University Press; Rev Ed edition , ISBN-13: 978-0199278022 16 Dec 2004 6. PM Allen, Textbook on Criminal Law ublisher: OUP Oxford; 9 edition ISBN-10: 0199215847, 19 Jul 2007