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6 Tips to Writing a Great Hypothetical Response in LAW109 at Macquarie

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Fiona Wylie
4 Jul 2018
4 min read
Writing hypothetical responses in LAW109 can be a bit tricky, especially if you're not used to this form of writing. To help you out, below are 6 tips on how to write a great hypothetical response to a problem question.

1. Keep your introduction concise

The key to writing an excellent introduction to a problem question in LAW109 is being concise and straight forward. This sort of introduction is completely different to the sort you'd see in English papers or that you may be used to from High School. In the introduction, you'll simply want to outline the relevant legal area to the question, the relevant legislation, and the burden of proof. There is no need to answer the question in your introduction because you'll only be able to come to a conclusion once you've discussed the issue in your response. A person typing on a laptop   2. Know your actus reus  A discussion of the actus reus will take up a decent chunk of your essay. If you don't know what actus reus means, pick up your textbook right away because this is the basis of criminal law! In regards to this concept, you will have different physical elements to discuss, depending on the crime that you are addressing. In order to find which physical elements are relevant, you will have to read the relevant legislation and pick out the physical elements. A picture featuring yellow 'crime scene do not cross' tape  

3. Know your mens rea 

A discussion of the mens rea is also likely to take up a few paragraphs, depending on the relevant crime. The way to find the mens rea is the same as the actus reus. A common example of a mental element of a crime is intention. In this section of your response, you will describe the elements and how they are fulfilled by referencing relevant case law and discussing the previous judgments made. You will then apply their judgments to the problem you are answering. An image stating 'mens rea: a guilty mind'  

4. Include temporal coincidence

Temporal coincidence can be a difficult concept to grasp. Basically, temporal coincide refers to the coinciding of the mens rea and the actus reus. In order to come to an accurate conclusion as to whether someone does or does not have criminal liability, you will need to be able to discuss temporal coincidence. This is because in some cases, if the mens rea and actus reus do not coincide, then the person is not considered criminally liable. A cartoon depicting temporal coincidence  

5. Include any relevant defences

To write a great hypothetical response, you'll need to include any relevant defences. For example, if the problem question is about a murder, however there was provocation, it would be great to talk about the defence of extreme provocation. Therefore, your conclusion will feature both firstly, whether the person is liable for the offence, and secondly, whether they would be likely to succeed in raising a defence. Wooden blocks spelling out 'justice'  

6. Keep you conclusion concise

Finally, you should keep your conclusion concise. If you have written an excellent hypothetical response, then it may even be appropriate to write only one sentence for your conclusion! For example: Stacy would likely be found to be criminally liable for assault, however may succeed in raising a defence of extreme provocation. Road signs showing 'innocent' one way, and 'guilty' the opposite way   So, above are 6 tips to help you write a great hypothetical response in Criminal Law (LAW109)! Best of luck!


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