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Chapter

Cover Criminal Law Directions

2. Actus reus  

Without assuming prior legal knowledge, books in the Directions series introduce and guide readers through key points of law and legal debate. Questions, diagrams, and exercises help readers to engage fully with each subject and check their understanding as they progress. This chapter discusses the actus reus elements of a criminal offence. The actus reus of an offence may involve an act or omission (conduct crimes); certain consequences being caused (result crimes); or the existence of surrounding circumstances (‘state of affairs’ crimes); it must be voluntarily performed. There is generally no liability for an omission to act. There are five exceptions: special relationship, voluntary assumption of responsibility, supervening fault, contractual duty or public office, and statutory duty. Where the defendant is charged with a ‘result’ crime, the prosecution must prove causation. An intervening event will break the chain of causation and the actus reus will not be established.

Chapter

Cover Criminal Law

2. Actus reus  

Michael J. Allen and Ian Edwards

Course-focused and contextual, Criminal Law provides a succinct overview of the key areas on the law curriculum balanced with thought-provoking contextual discussion. This chapter explains the concept of actus reus. It discusses the elements of crime, defining an actus reus, proving an actus reus, that conduct must be voluntary, state of affairs offences, omissions liability (situations in which a person will be liable for failing to act), causation (including the principles of factual and legal causation), and coincidence in time of actus reus and mens rea. ‘The law in context’ feature analyses critically English law’s approach to liability for causing another person’s suicide.