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Lecture 2

LAWS 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Actus Reus, Donald Marshall, Jr., Mens Rea


Department
Law
Course Code
LAWS 1000
Professor
Ozsu Faik
Lecture
2

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LAWS 1000 January 13th
Why Criminal Law?
- Do we need a formal system of laws and courts to set standards of minimally appropriate behavior and to uphold and enforce
these standards?
- Do we really need all of this stuff?
- When all is said and done, what is criminal law far exactly? What purpose does it serve? What is its function?
Social Norms = norms of the broadest category, ex: politeness
Legal Norms = Laws
- Norms = what is deemed normal
- Interested in the relationship between norms and law
- How do we pick out legal norms out of all the social norms? How do say which ones “count” (are recognized as law)
- We use praise/derision to communicate messages of social norms
- ^Most societies find this isn’t quite enough/efficient so we need a robust legal system (reinforcing)
- Need laws and courts formal means of establishing standards of practice and upholding those standards
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3 Models of criminal law and justice: (Not an exhaustive list)
Retribution: About punishment and vengeance. Society-wide retaliation. Society as a whole acts against the offender
Incapacitation: imprisonment, etc. rendering them incapable of committing more crime
Deterrence: The way criminal sanctions deter a convicted criminal from re-offending. Cautionary warnings to all members of society,
to encourage them not to engage in criminal behavior.
*The Crown = The State = The Government (all mean the same thing)
Basic points about criminal law in Canada:
- Each crime is composed of 2 elements. Actus Reus (the physical act in question) and Mens Rea (the mental state accompanying
the act)
- State prosecutor must be able to prove the existence of both elements to establish that someone is guilty
- Different crimes have different kinds of Mens Rea associated with them
- Terms like: intention, knowledge, willful blindness, negligence, etc. are used (all refer to Mens Rea)
- Omission = a failure to act when you’re required to (ex: parents not feeding their children = a failure to act (omission) This can
also be Actus Reus
*Some minor things like traffic violations don’t look so far into mens rea, is kind of presumed
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