Criminal Law Lecture 1 What is Criminal Law? Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It regulates social conduct and proscribes threatening, harming, or otherwise endangering the health, safety, and moral welfare of people. It includes the punishment of people who violate these laws. Moreover, criminal law: Defines crime and its elements; Provides proportional punishment for the crime; Classifying Criminal Law Crimes ‘mala in se’ - Acts which are wrong in themselves. The conduct is unlawful because the transaction or contact between people is unnatural or immoral. Examples include murder, rape, burglary, and so forth. Crimes ‘mala prohibita’ - Acts which are wrong because prohibited. The conduct is unlawful because it infringes on other's rights or just because it is prohibited. Examples include drunk driving, gambling, and so forth. Crimes ‘distinguished from torts’ - Victims can sue criminals in tort action, and double jeopardy does not prohibit tort and criminal action for the same conduct. Tort Law grew out of Criminal Law, and involves the concepts of fault and liability but does not carry the social condemnation of Criminal Law. That's why a different standard of proof exists for torts. Examples include libel, slander, trespass, wrongful death, and so forth. Elements of a Crime (Hall, 1949): By definition, a crime is: legally proscribed (the concept of Legality) human conduct (the concept of Actus Reus) Ablameworthy frame of mind (the concept of Mens Rea) causative (the concept of Causation) of a given harm (the concept of Social Harm) which coincides with (the concept of Concurrence) for which punishment is provided (the concept of Punishment) Legality nullum crimen sine poena - no crime without punishment nulla poena sine lege - no punishment without law Actus Reus Guilty Act An act can consist of commission, omission or possession. Omission Omission involves a failure to engage in necessary conduct resulting in injury. As with commission acts, omission acts can be reasoned causally using the but for approach. But for not having acted, the injury would not have occurred. Voluntariness The conduct must be voluntary Epileptic seizure? People v. Decina (1956) (motor vehicle) Unconsciousness or Sleep Automatism - ‘the existence in any person of behaviour of which he is unaware and over which he has no conscious control.’ Hill v Baxter – ‘If the jury are left in real doubt whether or not the accused acted in a state of automatism...they should acquit because the necessary mens rea has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.’ Thus, a person suffering from sleepwalking, epilepsy or other convulsive or reflexive disorder, who kills another, steals another's property, or engages in other facially criminal conduct, may not have committed an actus reus, for such conduct may have been elicited unconsciously. Voluntariness – Omission Voluntariness includes omission - the actor voluntarily chose to not behave in and, consequently, caused an injury. The purposeful, reckless, or negligent absence of an action is considered a voluntary action and fulfills the voluntary requirement of actus reus Mens Rea Mens Rea means ‘guilty mind.’ Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea - ‘the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty.’ Necessary element of a crime Thus there must be an actus reus, or ‘guilty act,’ accompanied by some level of mens rea to constitute the crime with which the defendant is charged. The actus reus and mens rea of homicide in a modern criminal statute can be considered as follows: actus reus: any conduct resulting in the death of another individual; mens rea: intent or knowledge that the conduct would result in the death. Causation Causation is the ‘causal relationship between conduct and result.’ That is to say that causation provides a means of connecting conduct with a resulting effect, typically an injury. Strict Liability Standard for liability – a person is legally responsible for the effects of his/her act/omission regardless of culpability (fault – typically the presence of mens rea). Strict liability often applies to vehicular traffic offenses. In a speeding case, for example, whether the defendant knew that the posted speed limit was being exceeded is irrelevant. The prosecutor would need to prove only that the defendant was operating the vehicle in excess of the speed limit. Criminal Law v International Criminal Law?