Actus Reus III

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Woodsworth College Courses
David Davies

Thursday October 21 2010 Lecture 5: Actus Reus III EVERY CRIMINAL OFFENCE HAS: ACTUS REUS + MENS REA - actus is the physical mens is the intent (physical element) + (mental element)- not every OFFENCE has both only criminal offences criminal act + criminal intent Actus Reus set out in the Criminal Code - involves a physical act or positive act or a failure to act may specify a particular consequence also a set of circumstances, looked at anti-terrorism last week sexual assault - involves an act or omission every actus reus in order to be found it has to be voluntary, minimum cognitive functioning to be found that you committed it may involve a specified consequence (causation) may involve a specific circumstances (lack of consent) must be voluntary Recap Automatism: insane vs. non-insane automatism (another name for the notion that actus is INVOLUNTARY) Distinction is super important if its non-insane they are acquitted, if on the other hand its found that the automatism is INSANE then youre found not guilty on account of a mental illness or MCR, ongoing potentially never-ending surveillance 1) Insane Automatism - Disease of the mind not purely a medical decision - legal, policy and medical elements (exemption from liability; protection of the public) - Malfunctioning that is internal to the accused - Results = not criminally responsible on account of a mental illness (s. 16) = ongoing supervision 2) Non-Insane Automatism - External cause - Transient disturbance of consciousness - Results = not guilty - actus reus not voluntary Automatism R. v. Parks FACTS: drove 23 km to his in-laws house; attacked and killed his mother-in-law; seriously injured his father-in-law; charged with murder and attempted murder; evidence established he was sleep- walking at the time; evidence established that people who are sleepwalking cannot think, reflect or perform voluntary acts R. v. Parks ISSUE: should the jury have been left to decide between insane and non-insane automatism? - ANSWER there was no evidence that condition was the product of a disease of the mind; only non-insane automatism was available Case law and rules are constantly evolving fact that your sleep walking isnt a product of a mental illness, so acting involuntary and acquitted R. v. Parks SCC confirmed that voluntariness is part of the AR burden on the Crown to prove significant because of what i said about offences NOT requiring mens rea, if you put the idea of voluntarines into the mens rea analysis it wouldnt be available Canada doesnt want to punish people who are acting involuntarily, so it has to be in the actus reus side, by keeping it a aprt of the ACTUS be voluntarily, they have kept the argument for offence available Defining a disease of the mind (a) Consider medical evidence doesnt really work, while it is relevant thats not the end of the equation because this has a lot of consequences socially and dont want to just leave it to doctors + is there some ongoing danger? That the courts need to have ongoing surveillance (b) legalpolicy considerations? - Internal vs. external causes - continuing danger
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