The goal of the criminal laws is to punish those who have done wrong against the state. The state is mandated by the constitution to prosecute those citizens who commit crimes against the state on behalf of the queen. Criminal laws are applied in those crimes that committed by the suspects against the state. The goal of the civil laws is to compensate the one who is injured by the other party. In these cases an individual compensate another individual for the crime that has been committed against him or her. In the criminal law, the defendant is sentenced when found guilty in the court of law. Most of the crimes in civil law have two elements; Actus which represent the act of guilty or physical part of the crime and Mens Rea which represent guiltiness of the mind or mental part of the committed crime.


            In this case study there are several crimes that are committed against the state. The first scenario is where Jack and Jill came from their house to go and witness a car crash as they were preparing to go town. On arriving at the scene of the crash, the two decided not to help the victims just because Jill could be frightened by the blood which could made her to faint. In the second scenario, Jack who is a police officer on part time basis, decided not to be involved when he found two prisoners fighting. In the process Jack who was on duty, was hit on the face when the punch from one prisoner missed the other prisoner. Out of this punch, Jack was bruised in his eye and his nose was broken and then started bleeding. On his way to hospital, Jack fall from the back of the ambulance when the door became loose. This worsened his conditions even as he arrived at the hospital. In the other scenario, Jill is frightened by receiving phone calls that are silent and she takes some drinks in order to calm her nerves. While still drunk, she takes her vehicle and started driving out of panic after hearing some noise in the house. The police stop her and charge her for driving while drunk. When Jack heard what has happened with Jill, he discharges himself from hospital and collapse on the way where he is seriously hit on his head leaving him in a coma.


            In the first scenario, Jack and Jill refuses to help victims of the car crash claiming that Jill is afraid of the blood and she may risk fainting. In the second scenario, Jack though he was on duty as a police officer refuses to intervene in the case of two fighting prisoners. In the third scenario, Jill is caught driving while she was drunk and in the final scenario, Jack left the hospital without permission despite his critical health conditions when he heard what happened to Jill.


            According to the common law, the Actus Reus can be looked into three perspectives; the act, state of the affair and when one fails to act. In the first scenario, Jack and Jill refused to act when they failed to assist the victims of the car crash. They had no responsibility to come in and help those who were in problem according to the interpretation of the actus reus. Actus reus is voluntary and Jack and Jill were not mandated to show duty of care by compulsion but it is voluntary and they could choose to help the victims of the car crash or not. They therefore decided not to help which was okay according to actus reus. However, there are exceptions to this voluntary nature of actus reus as discussed in the next scenarios. In the second scenario, Jack as police officer who was on duty was supposed to act and intervene in the case of the two fighting prisoners. Actus reus is voluntarily as we have seen in the case above where duty of care is not mandatory but there some exceptions to the duty of care where one is required to act. One of such exception is when one is required to act because of his or her official position. In this scenario, Jack’s position as the police officer required him to intervene in the case of the two fighting prisoners. He omitted to do his duty where he had duty of care to intervene and take the necessary action against the two fighting prisoners. This can be illustrated by the case of R v Dytham (1979) where a police officer who was on duty witnessed an attack which was violent to the victim but failed to intervene. The court found the officer guilty for failing to perform his duty in such circumstances. Jack can also file a case against the Ambulance driver for failing to act responsibly by ensuring that the ambulance door was properly locked which is a duty of care. There was law causation in that case where Jack can argue that his deteriorating illness was as a result of the ambulance incident. This can be illustrated by the case of R v Smith (1959), where a few soldiers who were assisting one of them who had been stabbed by one of the colleagues dropped the victim as they were taking him to hospital and on arriving at the hospital the victim was pronounced dead. All the soldiers who were assisting were found guilty for contributing to the death of the victim. Another similar case is that of R v Blaue (1975).

            The scenario where Jack had to leave hospital without permission when he heard what had happened to Jill can be termed as a case where causation chain is broken.  Jack is a victim of his own act and therefore responsible for his own action. He is guilty of his own collapse and therefore liable for sentence before the court of the law. The case of R v Roberts (1971) is a similar case where the claimant is the victim of his own act. In the scenario of Jill where she was caught driving while drunk, she can defend herself before the court law by proving to the court of law that her action of driving when drunk was as result of the silent calls she had received making her panic and loose her self control. She can use the case of R v Woolin (1998), where the defendant lost his temper and threw the baby on a hard surface arguing that she was frustrated by the cry of the baby.


            If found guilty in all these scenarios, Jack and Jill will be punished different sentences for different scenarios as provided by the 2003 Act of criminal Justice(chap.12)


Criminal Justice Act 2003

Criminal_law_note.pdf 8192 kb Download R v Blaue [1975] 1 WLR 1411

R v Woollin [1998] 4 All ER 103

R v Roberts (1971) 56 Cr. App. R. 95

R v Dytham (1979) QB 722

R. v. Smith (Thomas Joseph) [1959] 2 QB 35, [1959]

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