THE TWO BASIC ELEMENTS OF ALL CRIMES
In general, an accused person may not be convicted of a criminal offence unless the
prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
a) A particular event or state of affairs was caused by the accused’s conduct.
THIS IS CALLED THE ___________actus reas- all other
elements___________ , and
b) This conduct was accompanied by a certain required state of mind
THIS IS CALLED THE ___________Mens rea ____________________
AR + MR = CRIME
ACTUS REUS - VOLUNTRAY ACT - (ALL ELEMENTS THAT MUST BE
PROVED EXCEPT FOR MENS REA)
Existence of this element justifies societal intervention – it is what we are concerned
about – not merely bad thoughts or that someone might be dangerous – they must
do the prohibited act.
E.g. Don Juan with bigamous intent marries someone else – but wife killed 10
minutes prior to marriage ceremony. Is there a crime? _______No crime – no
ELEMENTS OF THE ACTUS REUS CAN BE CHARACTERIZED AS EITHER (Note:
only some crimes have all 3)
1. CONDUCT (a voluntary act or omission constituting the major feature of the
(Sometimes a “state of being” E.G. being in possession, being drunk in public)
2. CIRCUMSTANCES (the circumstances, if any, in which the conduct takes
3. CONSEQUENCES (the consequences, if any, caused by the voluntary act or
Analysis of assault sections of the Criminal Code
265. (1) A person commits an assault when
% (a) without the consent of another person (circumstance), he applies
force(conduct) intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly (conduct -
Indirect = throwing coffee in face, spraying AIDS infected blood, etc);
1 (b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force
(conduct) to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on
reasonable grounds (circumstance – would the average person believe he was
going to be assaulted) that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
1 (c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation
(circumstance) thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs
Analysis of section 267
267. Every one who, in committing an assault,
% (a) carries, uses or threatens to use a weapon or an imitation
(circumstance) thereof, or
% (b) causes bodily harm (consequence) to the complainant,
is guilty an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten
years or an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment
for a term not exceeding eighteen months.
1. What type of actus reus is required by s. 267(a)?
2. What type of actus reus is required by s. 267(b)? __Consequence_________
3. Definitions: Check, the section, the part and section 2 of the Criminal Code
s. 2 as “bodily harm” means any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the
health or comfort of the person and that is more than merely transient or trifling in
4. Give examples of injuries that are and are not “bodily harm”.
scratch, bleeding nose, bruise bodily harm- knocked out tooth, cut that needs
5. S. 271 creates a type of assault called “sexual assault”, but nowhere in the Code
is sexual defined. The SCC in Canada v. Chase (1987) described the test as an
objective one “Viewed in the light of all the circumstances is the sexual or carnal
context of the assault visible to a reasonable observer”.
Is this a subjective or objective test? Who is the reasonable observer?
Reasonable observer - the average person and when it is the judge deciding they
are the reasonable observer.
Check out section 263(3)( c &d) to determine ineffective consent.
Done by force or threat, fraud or exercise of authority
In The SCC in V (KB) 1993) a man who violently pinched his 3 year old’s genitals
causing bruising and pain to deter him from grabbing other people crotches was
convicted. Does this case seem logical?
To a reasonable observer there seems to be a sexual context – thus he was
SOME OFFENCES DO NOT REQUIRE ALL 3 TYPES OF ACTUS REUS
1. S. 131(1) Perjury – “Everyone commits perjury who, with intent to mislead,
makes before a person authorized by law to permit it to be made before him a
false statement under oath (conduct) or solemn affirmation, by affidavit, solemn
declaration or orally, knowing that statement to be false ….
Mens rea = intent to deceive; knowing that the statement is false
Circumstance = before a person authorized by law (under oath)
What type of actus reus isn’t required? No consequence
R.v. Evans (1995) (Man. Ct. Appeal) It is not necessary that the false
statement actually mislead the court.
2. However, most crimes do include required consequences
S. 362(1)(b) Obtaining Credit by False Pretenses
Winning (1973) (Man. Ct. Appeal) Accused included at least 2 false statements on
credit application to Eatons, but Eatons did its own credit check. Is Winning guilty?
No, because she obtained the credit based on the credit check and not on
the application where she put false information.
3. Offences where “conduct” not required
a) s. 351(1) Possession of housebreaking instruments
S. 351(1) – Everyone who, without lawful excuse, the proof of which lies on him,
has in his possession any instrument suitable for the purpose of breaking into any
place, motor vehicle, vault or safe under circumstances that give rise to a
reasonable inference that the instrument has been or is or was intended to be
used for such purpose, is guilty….
Does Crown have to prove that accused had a target in mind?
K(S) 1995 (BCCA) – Here backpack with vice grips, gloves, screwdriver, and ignition
The accused has to prove that they are innocent – unconstitutional because
usually it is innocent until proved guilty, but all rights are subject to limits.
b) Impaired “care and control” of a motor vehicle (s. 253) R.v. Ford (1982) - Intention to
drive is not an essential element - “if accused does some act of series of acts involving
the use of the car, its fittings or equipment, whereby the vehicle may be unintentionally
set in motion …”