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Lecture 1

Philosophy 2080 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Actus Reus, Strict Constructionism, Mens Rea

Course Code
PHIL 2080
James Hildebrand

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Criminal Law 01/07/2016
How we express our societal morals and universal set of values
-oence is not just against victim, but society at large
- there is oender and victim
-state vs. accused (R. v accused) “Regina the Queen US is “the
People vs”
-victim is Crown’s most important witness
Why?? It is a judgment on activity (has dierent objectives than in a
civil case)
-crown seeks incarceration, 5nes (to the state)
- aim on criminal law is to punish and to deter (speci5c and general)
Speci5c deter the accused directly
General aimed at the public to deter them from creating similar
Criminal law has been entirely codi5ed into an exhausted list (Federal
- defenses (some are codi5ed) – some recognized at common law
-give the accused the opportunity to defend themselves (crown holds
extensive powers of the state)
Standard of proof = prove all elements of case beyond a reasonable
*presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law (fair trial and
right to remain silent)
Doctrine of strict construction:
1) narrow interpretation ( read the criminal code to catch as little
behavior as possible)
2) ambiguity in the wording is resolved in favor of the accused
Disclosure Obligations- crown is required to disclose all of it’s evidence
to accused person and defense attorney
Actus Reus actual acts that comprise a crime, state of being,
commission of an oence or omission
Mens Rea guilty mind, mental element, did accused have capacity to
think, know what they were doing

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Regina v Parks
-son in law just 5red for embezzling money, killed mother in law and
almost killed father in law while “sleep walking” automatism defense
-acquitted by jury
-disease of the mind? Or Non-insane automatism
What is a disease of the mind?
- legal or medical term? LEGAL (sleepwalking con5rmed by doctor not
considered an illness)
*trial judge was corrected (majority court decision was to keep the
peace as term and conditions of release) Laforest concurs argues that this
case can’t be decided on the facts, more policy and implications of the
Automatism vs. Insanity (not actually a positive defense) believes it to
be part of the actus reus) *act must be voluntary
*applicability of the defense must focus on the likelihood of
1) Continuing Danger- disease of the mind if they may or may not
repeat conduct (if not likely to reoccur it may not be considered a disease of
the mind)
2) internal cause, condition that is more or less a disease of the mind
(internally or inherently wrong or defective in the brain)
*crown argued Internal cause (argued a continued danger)
**absolute acquittal (only those who act voluntarily should be punished
Actus Reus conduct that has caused a particular result
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