Actus Reus And The Guilty Act Essay

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Criminal liability is based upon the coincidence of the guilty act (actus reus) and the guilty mind (mens rea). To be liable, the defendant must have the guilty state of mind at the time he commits the guilty act. Some offenses, however, don’t require mens rea with regard to at least one element of the actus reus. These offenses are called strict liability offenses. When both the actus reus and the mens rea are established and coincide, or when the offense committed is one of strict liability, an absence of valid defence leads to criminal liability.
1.1. Actus Reus
The actus reus of an offense could be described as the guilty act; it encompasses all elements of the offense except for the state of mind of the defendant. There are different types of actus reus.
Conduct crimes are those with an actus reus concerning only a prohibited course of conduct, regardless of its consequences, for example driving whilst disqualified or rape. For the defendant to be found guilty, the actus reus must have been committed voluntarily.
For state of affairs crimes, the actus reus is about ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’; it consists of circumstances and, sometimes, consequences, but no actual acts, for example driving when drunk.
For result crimes, the actus reus concerns the prohibited consequences of an act. In these cases, the prosecution must prove not only that the defendant committed a forbidden act in forbidden circumstance but also that his conduct caused the consequence of the offense.…

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