This is an extract of our General Principles Of Criminal Law document, which we sell as part of our GDL Criminal Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students.
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GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF CRIMINAL LAW
Mens Rea - guilty mind (MR)
Actus Rea - guilty act (AR)
Burden of Proof: Woolmington v DPP (1935)
o Set out the golden thread of the burden of proof is always on the prosecution.
o Prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that defendant committed the actus reus and mens rea.
Conduct and Fault must come together: R v Deller (1952)
o Cannot be prosecuted own a guilty mind alone if there is no actus rea.
Unknown justification: R v Dadson (1850)
o Police officer fired a shot at a trespasser, was charged with
GBH. But Larceny Act (1827) stated it was justifiable to fire on an escaping felon. PO did not know that victim was a felon. Police officer was convicted.
G Williams argues that this was decided wrongly, as the was lawful justification even if the police officer did not know of it.
Smith and Hogan disagree arguing that we cannot rely on such an unknown justification - view upheld in the law
Lanham argues we ought to break down crime into three elements: fault, mens rea, and the defence itself.
Comission vs Omission
R v Smith (1826) - Railway watchman took a break during which a man was hit by train. Held: Generally no liability for omission
Williams, G: We punish misfeasance, we don't punish non-feasance
Ashworth argues that society demands more: in different areas we have and should develop areas of societal responsibility
That reasonable steps should be taken to prevent harm
Airedale NHS Trust v Bland 
'Pulling the plug' on Hillsborough victim in PVS
Obiter Lord Bland:
if an interloper got into the hospital and pulled out the tubes then that would be murder as an act of commission.
It is different when done by a Dr, as this should be viewed as an omission to continue the treatment.
Distinguishes ending life, and not continuing life.
Six Exceptions including Liability for Commission
1) Statutory Liabilities, e.g. failing to provide a breathalyser.
o 2) Contractual Liabilities
R v Pittwood (1902) 19 T.L.R. 37
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