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Lecture 6

SOCI-225 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Partial Defence, W. M. Keck Observatory, Mens Rea

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-crime: conduct that is prohibited by law and that is subject to a penal sanction such as prison time or a
fine; in Canada all crimes are contained in statutes such as the Criminal Code
Two parts: an explicit prohibition and 2) a punishment for failing to meet that prohibition
3) a component that regards an offense: the supreme court ruled that the punishment and prohibition
must be directed at a behaviour that is injurious to Canadians
-if any law fails to meet all 3, it may fall under provincial concern (ie environmental lawpollution was
ruled to be injurious to Canadians and thus under federal jurisdiction; laws against possession of
marijuana protect from self harm, though many argue it is a victimless crime)
-police and gvmt officials are required to enforce the law regardless of their private views or affiliations
-many are political issues: ie the sanctity of life and physician assisted death
-criminal law: a body of jurisprudence that defines crimes, the penalties, and sets of principles regarding
criminal responsibility and possible defences
-the main sources of criminal law in Canada are 1) legislation and 2)precedence and judicial decisions
-the federal body decides on criminal laws and procedures; substantive law refers to the actual
rules and prhibitions and specifies the legal elements reqd for the charge; procedural law refers to
prosecution procedures and the scope of the powers of justice officials
1)indictable offences (most serious) 2)summary convictions and 3) hybrid/mixed convictions (can
be tried as either 1 or 2)
Quasicriminal law: under the constitution act, provincial power has control over health, education,
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element 3 of being injurious to all Canadians
-criminal law is directed at true crime: inherent wrongs, where the individuals conduct breaches values
such as sanctity of life
-regulatory offences (quasi crime) regulates inherently legitimate practices such as business, industry (ie
fishing) and everyday living. Usually carry a minor penalty (ie violating a clause of the competition act
may only carry a fine)
-common law:a term referring to the law made by judges that is not in legislation; criminal code left
open to interpretation for good reasoncannot possibly accountfor every wrongdoing
-judges no longer allowed to add to criminal lawonly contempt of the court, but often use
defences not used in the Code (ie necessity not listed but can be used, hence it is a common law
Defences to criminal charge:
-often leads to lesser charges when used successfully
1.NCRMD: mental disorder, must be proved on a balance of probabilities that because of mental
disorder the accused lacked the capacity to appreciate the nature of the act or of knowing its immorality
-can be used only with serious illness: ie someone with mild depression/anxiety knows the
wrongness of stabbing
-mental disorder cannot be used as an excuse to participate in crime if the individual is capable
of knowing the wrong
-defendant must prove non-culpability: burden is not on the crown
-can face absolute release from charges, conditional release or phychiatric treatment; released
when they no longer pose a threat to themselves or others
2.mistake of fact: person acted under the mistake of an honest influence in relation to any element of
actus reus; believed the act was not criminal in the circumstances
-essentially claiming the crown has failed to prove mens rea
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