It was a kind of revenge. Nevertheless, he was able to hit the shopper and not his ex-girlfriend. Knowing that it was a street, a public area, Charlie could have exercised an extra care in throwing the stone. Presumably, he was drunk so he was not able to consider the required duty of care. He was intoxicated. To note, the shopper was blinded in one eye. The question now would focus on his criminal liability if any in the instant scenario. Charlie could actually make any of the following as his defence against the shopper: (1) he did not intend to hit the shopper-- it was unintentional; (2) he was intoxicated -- this could mean that he was not in his right mind when he executed the act; (3) it was purely incidental -- he had nothing to do with the situation. On the other hand, the police officer could choose any of the following to defend himself and prove his innocence: (1) he gave a warning to Charlie; (2) he decided to fire at Charlie since he did not listen; (3) he did not intend to kill the shopper -- the killing was unintentional. To this extent, Charlie could refute the second defence of the police as he was hard of hearing. The Principles of Actus Reus and Mens Rea In determining criminal liability, there are two factors that should be considered, “actus reus” and “mens rea.” In British law, there is a need to prove the existence of the two factors so as to judge an accused as criminally liable. Stated in another sense, there should be a direct relation between the criminal’s mind and action. The prosecutors should be able to show that the accused really intended to commit the criminal act. It would be plausible to state then that if they could not prove the presence of the two factors, the accused should be absolved from any criminal liability. Nevertheless, there are certain exceptions to this rule. It could happen that the criminal does not really have the intention to commit the crime as he or she was forced to do so or was just unaware of the consequences of his or her act. Self-defence and insanity illustrate this situation. Both are actually lawful justifications in a criminal complaint. There will be no unlawful act if an accused successfully proves either of the two defences in court. As explained by Allen, where a particular defence functions as an excuse to the accused’s criminal conduct, such act is negated as it would be deemed to have been the proper course of action in the situation in which the accused found himself or herself.1 As such, the accused would not face the normal effects of conviction and sentencing flowing from the wrong conduct requiring mens rea.2 To properly assess the instant scenario, it would be appropriate to tackle first the principle on actus reus. Actus reus actually refers to the external or outside elements of the offence.3 Specifically, it refers to the elements of a crime which are to be established and proven by the prosecution other than the mens rea.4 The essential difference between the two principles of criminal law (actus reus and mens rea) is that actus reus is related to criminal acts while mens rea is associated with the state of mind or criminal mind. Stated otherwise, the first is to action whereas the second is to intellect. Nonetheless, there are crimes in which criminal intent is one of its essential elements like murder. In the case at hand, Charlie's act towards his ex-girlfriend was an assault, a common assault under section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act of 1988.5 An assault is actually
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Facts Charlie, who was drunk, threw a stone at her ex-girlfriend for being unfaithful. Instead of hitting his girlfriend, he hit a shopper. The shopper was blinded in one eye. Charlie was chased by a policeman. He did not hear the warning given so the police fired at him…
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