Criminal Law
Criminal Law Pre-Test
Answer the questions on the pre-test to
the best of your ability, then pass in
At the end of the unit we will re-take
the pre-test to determine your progress
Crime: act or omission of an act that is
prohibited and punishable by Fed statute
– Considered wrong by society
– Causes harm to society/protected individuals
– The harm is serious
– Remedy must be handled by CJS
Crimes impact society as well as individuals
Criminal Law: prohibits & punishes acts
that injure people, property & society
– Protects people & property
– Maintains order
– Preserves standards of public decency
Criminal Code: a federal statute that
contains most criminal laws
Federal Jurisdiction – establishes &
revises Criminal Law in Canada
Provincial – own judges, court systems;
administers most crim. Law in province;
passes laws under their jurisdiction
Municipal – jurisdiction may be
transferred from Provincial
Possible Causes of Crime
 disregard for other’s rights and property
 drug use
 insanity
 anger
 revenge
Why might Parliament decide to
make certain actions criminal?
Interest groups oppose existing laws
 changing values of society
– (anti-drug laws, gun laws, drunk-driving
laws, capital punishment, abortion laws)
Clarity of Laws
Law in your life, P.141
– What exactly is “Reasonable Force”?
Ball Playing Prohibited, Bylaw 391
– Read individually. Decide on which
violators should be charged.
– Share decisions in groups.
– Write a definition so that all park users will
understand the Bylaw
Types of Offences
1. Summary conviction offences minor offences; max. $2000 ,6 mos.
 2. Indictable offences - serious
crimes, can be life imprisonment
 3. Hybrid offences - Crown chooses
whether to proceed as a summary or
indictable offence
Essential Elements of a
Actus reus +mens rea = Crime
To convict a person of a criminal
offence, the Crown must usually prove
that these 2 elements existed at the
time of the offence
Actus Reus
“the guilty act”
 the voluntarily action, omission or
“state of being”
For example:
– Action- assault
– Omission- not stopping at an accident;
failing to provide necessities of life
– State of being- being in possession of
stolen goods; found in a gambling house
Mens Rea
“the guilty mind”
 A deliberate intention to commit a
wrongful act, with reckless disregard
for the consequences
Crown must show that the accused had the
intent to commit an offence or knowledge
that what they did was against the law
Mens Rea Includes:
– desire to carry out the action, can foresee the results
or knowledge
– an awareness of certain facts
or willful blindness
– a deliberate closing of one’s mind to the possible
consequences of one’s actions
or recklessness
– taking an unjustifiable risk that a reasonable person
would not take
or criminal negligence
– reckless disregard for the safety of others,
sometimes causing serious injury or death
Actus Reus… clarified
A person may incur criminal liability for failing to do that which
the law requires him to do as much as by doing that which the
law prohibits.
Must be a voluntary act, not automatism.
An omission is only culpable if there is a common law or
statutory duty to act. Generally there is no obligation on anyone
to prevent harm or wrongdoing.
Case Study
R. v.. Sidney
Saskatchewan, 1915
The accused man was charged with manslaughter after the death of
his wife and son. Following an argument in their home, the wife took
the son and started walking to the house of her parents. She and the
boy left at night in a severe snowstorm. They never arrived at her
parents' house; they froze to death before reaching their destination.
The charge against the husband was based primarily upon his
permitting them to leave and not following them or taking any action to
protect their safety.
No Actus Reus
He was found not guilty of failing to supply
"necessaries." The court felt that the husband was
not criminally liable where the wife exercised her free
will and chose to leave the shelter provided for her.
With respect to the child, because the wife had
control of him and there was nothing to show that
the wife would get lost or deliberately expose the
child to danger, there was no duty upon the husband
to intervene.
Mens Rea Case
R v Moloney (1985) HL
D received a friendly challenge by his stepfather to see who was
"quicker on the draw" with shotguns. Both men were drunk, but
good friends. Moloney shot and killed his stepfather, although
he claimed he had no intention to do so and did not appreciate
that the gun was aimed at the victim.
Held: Moloney was not guilty of murder as a person only
intends the result of an act if his purpose is to bring about that
result. As Moloney did not intend to kill his stepfather, he was
not guilty of murder.
Actus Reus + Mens Rea
In Commonwealth v. Cali (Massachusetts, 1923), a
man accidentally started a fire in his place of
business. He then did nothing to put out the fire
because he wanted to collect the fire insurance. He
was convicted of arson.
Actus Reus + Mens Rea
The court concluded that if a person
starts a fire accidentally and then
purposely refuses to extinguish it, a
conviction for arson is possible since the
intent could be formed after, as well as
before, the fire started.
Actus Reus + Mens Rea = Crime
Actus Reus & Mens Rea Application
– State which of the people in each scenario
would be guilty of committing a criminal
– Both actus reus and mens rea should exist.
– Explain your answers.
Motive V. Intent
– A state of mind in which someone desires
to carry out a wrongful action, knows what
the results will be, and is reckless
regarding the consequences
– The reason a person commits a crime
2 Types of Intent
General Intent
– The desire to commit a wrongful act, with
no ulterior motive or purpose
i.e. Hit someone out of anger
Specific Intent
– The desire to commit one wrongful act for
the sake of accomplishing another
i.e. Hit someone in order to rob them
2 Types of Intent
General Intent is easier to prove than
Specific Intent
A court may decide to prosecute
someone for manslaughter (unplanned
& unintended homicide), rather than
murder (planned & deliberate homicide)
Case Study
Father Jailed in Death of Son Left
– P. 146
Case Study
Father Jailed in Death of Son Left
1. failing to provide a child with the
necessities of life (supervision)
 2. previous warning re: heavy traffic
 3.
 4.
P.152 #1-5
Strict & Absolute Liability
Liability- legal responsibility for a
wrongful action
Strict & Absolute Liability
For some less serious offences, the
Crown does not have to establish mens
rea to win a conviction
– i.e. offences against laws meant to protect
the public welfare (environmental
protection, workplace safety, traffic
Strict & Absolute Liability
Offences that do not require mens rea
can be grouped into 2 liability
– Strict Liability Offences
– Absolute Liability Offences
Strict & Absolute Liability
Strict liability offences
– The accused may acknowledge that the
offence took place but then offer the
defence of due diligence
Due Diligence:
the accused took every reasonable precaution to
avoid committing the offence in question
Strict & Absolutely Liability
A business would normally be
responsible for pollution & runoff even
if there was no intent…
Unless they can prove that they took
every reasonable precaution to avoid
potential pollution
– (i.e. monitoring devices & special training
for staff)
Strict and Absolute Liability
Absolute liability
– offences that do not require mens rea and to which
the accused can offer no defence
– Once the Crown has established that the offence
took place & the accused is responsible for it, the
Court must find them guilty
– Because they can offer no defence, they cannot be
imprisoned… usually fines
Involvement in a Crime
Guilt may also be ascribed to
incomplete offences & to those who are
less than full participants in the crime
Parties to an Offence:
 Perpetrator
 Aiding
 Accessory after
 Abetting
the fact
 Counselling
the person who actually commits the offence
– When more than one person is directly
involved in an offence
– both have to be present at the scene of
the offence
Parties to an Offence
– A criminal offence that involves helping a
perpetrator commit a crime
Considered partly responsible
Does not have to be present
– i.e. supplying the key to a robber
Parties to an Offence
– The crime of encouraging the perpetrator
to commit an offence
– Must have knowledge of the intent & committed
an action that assisted the perpetrator
– Without actually providing physical assistance
– i.e. Carlos egging Raj on to beat Bill up
Parties to an Offence
– A crime that involves advising,
recommending, or persuading another
person to commit a criminal offence
– Do not have to be at the scene of the crime
– i.e. Jenn works @ Save Easy & tells Bob where he
can steal without getting seen by staff/cameras
Parties to an Offence
Accessory after the fact
– Someone who knowingly receives,
comforts, or assists a perpetrator in
escaping from the police
– Does not have to participate or help planning
– If you knew that someone was involved in an
offence & helped them without reporting them
Parties to an Offence
Party to common intention
– The shared responsibility among criminals
for any additional offences that are
committed in the course of the crime they
originally intended to commit
– i.e. 6 people hijack a security truck & one of them
shoots & kills the driver, all 6 can be charged with
Incomplete Crimes
While actus reus + mens rea = crime,
there are exceptions (where the act
has not taken place):
Incomplete Crimes:
– Criminal intent
– conspiracy
Incomplete Crimes
Criminal Attempt
– The intention to commit a crime, even
when the crime is not completed
– An attempt requires the guilty act but begins the
moment mere preparation turns into an action
required to commit the offence
– Mens rea can also be established as occurring at
the beginning of an illegal act
Had the intent & took some obvious steps
Terrorist builds bomb but doesn’t carry through
Incomplete Crimes
– An agreement between two or more
people to carry out an illegal act, even if
that act does not actually occur
– You hire a hitman who is an undercover
police officer. No murder was committed,
but conspiracy to murder was
Oceans 11
Parties to an Offence
During/After viewing this film, fill out
your worksheet in order to specify
which characters in the film can be
charged for which Party to an Offence
P.156 #1,2,3,4,5