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Intro To Basic Principles Of Criminal Liability Notes

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A more recent version of these Intro To Basic Principles Of Criminal Liability notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL Criminal Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Criminal: Introduction to the Basic Principles of Criminal Liability
- Criminal law: definitions + purpose. crime: public wrong - behaviour deemed unacceptable by society. but not all wrongs = crimes: e.g. adultery. purpose of criminal law: regulation, prevention, punishment, clarity ? to protect: 1. society as a whole; 2. individual interests; 3. certain property rights. offences/crimes: set out 'the rules' - what is required to commit a public wrong.

- Criminal law: complex + evolving. historical context governs some principles: e.g. impossible to conspire with spouse. but: evolution: courts interpret law through case law + govt. updates law through amendments, repeals +
creation of new offences. e.g. marital rape: recognised as crime in 1991; homosexuality: decriminalised in 1967; defences for murder: Coroners and Justice Act 2009 replaced 'provocation' with 'loss of control'.

- General principles of criminal justice: balance between protecting society + individual rights. rights of accused: innocent until proven guilty; fair trial; burden of proof on prosecution.

- Distinction between criminal and civil law. crime: public wrong - public interest in prevention of actions. tort or breach of contract: civil wrongs - private matter to be resolved between parties only wronged party can bring claim (vs. crime: CPS on behalf of public). remedy: damages to injured party or injunction (vs. crime: punishment by state). but: overlap - same action can be both crime + civil wrong (e.g. crime of battery + tort of trespass to the person).

- Burden and standard of proof: prosecution must prove crime 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Woolmington v DPP [1935] AC 462: presumption of innocence first articulated. Viscount Sankey: 'golden thread' in English Criminal Law. current jury direction: 'how does the prosecution succeed in proving the defendant's guilt? The answer is - by making you sure of it. Nothing less than that will do.'

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