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University of Toronto St. George
Woodsworth College Courses
Dena Demos

RECAP - Every criminal offences has : ACTUS REUS + MENS REA (physical element) + (mental element) Criminal act + criminal intent - Only criminal offences needs both - Actus reus o Set out in criminal code o Involves an act/omission o May involve a specified consequences (Causation) o May involve a specific circumstances (lack of consent) o Must be voluntary - insane automatism = not criminally responsible on account of a mental illness = ongoing supervision, indefinite, can involve being detained in psychiatric facility for rest of your life - non-insane automatism = acquitted - internal; internal trigger - external; external trigger ACTUS REUS AUTOMATISM R. v. Parks Facts: drove 23km to his in-laws house; attacked and killed his mother-in-law; seriouslyinured his father-in-law; charged with murder and attempted murder; evidence established he was sleep-walking at that time; evidence established that people who are sleepwalking cannot “think, reflect or perform voluntary acts” - issue was not whether he acted voluntarily or not, once it was established he was sleep-walking, need to know if it was insane or non-insane automatism 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...he was acting involuntary, not the product of disease of the mind, thus non-insane and acquitted SCC confirmed that voluntariness is part of the AR—burden on the Crown to prove, Defining a “disease of the mind” a) consider medical evidence (court says that it doesn’t work to depend on medical evidence because it has significant social consequences, talking about potentially reliving people with acquittals, don’t want to just leave that to doctors to decide...does the person pose on-going danger, that justice system need to monitor) b) legal/policy considerations? - Internal vs. External causes - Continuing danger - Risk of recurrence - Other? *if you put voluntariness into mens rea, this argument would never be available for non-criminal offence, we don’t want do punish people for acting involuntary, it has to be in AR so it is available in non-mens rea requirement, kept the defense available for every offence - not likely that Parks will reoffend again R. v. Stone (1999 SCC) Stabbed his wife 47 times; she insulted him; he felt a “whoosh”; when he focused again, she had been stabbed 2 step approach 1) Did the accused act involuntarily? - Burden on the accused (balance of probabilities) (leaving aside whether it was insane or not, up to accused to establish more likely than not, they were acting involuntarily) 2) Is it insane or non-insane automatism 1 - presumption that is a disease of the mind (BIG change from Parks and Rabey); starting point is that every involuntary act is a disease of mind, and enter the insane automatism, unless can establish otherwise - holistic test: does society require ongoing protection from the accused? (internal/external, continuing anger, policy considerations, reasonableness of response); Result: presumption stands, and it is insane automatism R. v. Luedecke (2008, Ont. C.A.) FACTS: admitted he had non-consensual sex with the complainant; claimed he was asleep at the time; had a history of engaging in sexual activity while asleep ISSUES: Doherty J.A.: - conduct was involuntary - community still has an interest insassessing and managing dangerousness - categorization as “mentally ill” not the issues - Parks does not apply after Stone o Presumed to be a disease of the mind o Rocus on risk of recurrence o Defining something as a “disease of the mind” is largely a policy consideration *the label doesn’t necessary fit, but created a whole legal test that brings in broader social policy issue...if their is a risk of recurrence or conduct itself call for on-going public protection will be considered a disease of the mind -should understand how court distinguish b/t insane and non-insane automatism and voluntariness OMISSION - Actus reus—usually involves an act of commission (positive act) - BUT can sometimes involve an act of omission (failure to act) - Must be a legal duty to act - Criminal code creates legal studies - Failure to carry out legal duty = actus reus People v. Beardsley (US Case) FACTS: Beardsley was charged with manslaughter in the death of Burns. They have been drinking together at Bearsley’s house; both were extremely intoxicated; Burns sent someone to buy her morphine, she took 3 morphine tablets; Beardsley was too drunk to help her; he asked someone else in the house to assit her; she never regained consciousness and died THEORY OF LIABILITY: Beardsley owed a “duty of care” to Burns to take steps to protect her; his failure to take steps to protect her caused her death; his failure to act (omission) makes him criminably liable ISSUE: did he have aa legal obligation to take all reasonable steps to save Burns? Or is it merely a moral obligation - This is significant, because we distinguish b/t legal and moral duty to act, which can form the basis of criminal liability if you don’t do it RULING: - Burns had voluntarily gone “carousing” with Beardsley - Burns had experience with intoxicants - Legal duty is not created by moral duty - The mere fact Burns was Beardsley’s house did not create a legal duty...draw the line b/t civil and criminal liability, - Beardsley had a moral duty to assist her but no legal duty - Conviction set aside EXAMPLES IN CANADA s. 215(1) Everyone is under a legal duty a) as a parent, foster parent, guardian or head of a family, ot provide necessaries of life for a child under the age of 16 2 b) to provide necessaries of life to their spouse or common-law partner; and c) to provide necessaries of life ot a person under his charge if that person i) is unable, by reason of detention, age, illness, mental disorder, or other cause, to withdraw himself from that charge, and ii) is unable to provide himself with necessaries of life s.216 – Everyone who undertakes to administer surgical or medical treatment to another person or to do any other lawful act that may endanger the life of another person is, except in the cases of necessity , under a legal duty to have and to use reasonable knowledge, skill and care in doing so e.g. skydiving teacher s.217—Everyone who undertakes to do an act is under a legal duty to do if it an omission to do the act is or may dangerous to life  if you undertake to rescue someone, and you stop doing it, it is a criminal offence...not a criminal offence to not start rescuing someone but once you start rescuing and stop it is a criminal offence; being unsuccessful is not a crime R. v. Thornton (1991, Ont. C.A.) FACTS: Thornton was HIV positive; knew that Canadian Red Cross would not knowingly accept blood from an infected person CHARGE: common nuisance endangering life s. 180—For the prupose of this section, everyone commits a common nuisance who does an unlawful act or fails to discharge a legal duty and thereby a) endagers the lives, safety, health property or comfort of the public ISSUE: - Was Thornton under a legal duty? - Does a legal duty have t
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