will also be a discussion in relation to the administration of the overdose of painkillers in a situation where the patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and whether the outcome would be any different if the overdose had been administered by the nurse instead of the doctor. This will require a discussion in relation to whether the nurse would have been aware that the higher dosage would cause the death of the patient. As the doctor is more likely to be higher qualified than a nurse, a greater degree of care would be expected of the doctor. Having considered all of the above, it should then be possible to determine the liability of each of the parties.
The actus reus of an offence refers to the act of the accused, which, when combined with either the recklessness or intention of the accused causes the crime to be committed. For each crime, the actus reus of the offence will alter. For murder, the actus reus would be the direct act of the accused that caused the death of the victim. This means that the actus reus of an offence is the external element of the crime. The mens rea of a crime is the fault element of the offence and translates as the ‘guilty mind’.
When a man of sound memory and of the age of discretion, unlawfully killeth within any country of the realm any reasonable creature in rerum natura under the Kings Peace, with malice aforethought, so as the party wounded, or hurt…, die of the wound or hurt, … within a year and a day after the same1.
Through legislative changes2 and case law precedents 3 the element of malice aforethought has now been restricted to narrower terms4. Prior to these changes, the courts needed to be convinced that an element of ill will or premeditation existed in order to find a defendant guilty. Since the changes the prosecution now only needs to prove that an intention to kill5 or an intention to cause grievous bodily harm6 existed. The wording of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 has also altered the level