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Chapter 6. The Nature of Crime. Defining a Crime and Criminal Offences. A Crime is an act or omission of an act that is prohibited and punishable by federal statute How could an “omission of an act” be considered a crime?. Conditions required to be considered a crime.

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Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The Nature of Crime

Defining a crime and criminal offences

Defining a Crime and Criminal Offences

A Crime is an act or omission of an act that is prohibited and punishable by federal statute

How could an “omission of an act” be considered a crime?

Conditions required to be considered a crime

Conditions required to be considered a crime

  • The act is considered wrong by society.

  • The act causes harm to society in general or to those (such as minors) who need protection.

  • The harm is serious.

  • The remedy must be handled by the criminal justice system.

Criminal law

Criminal Law

A crime is considered to be an offence not just against the direct victim of the crime, but also against the public, or society as a whole.

How is theft a crime against the public and not just the store owner?

Definition and purposes of criminal law

Definition and Purposes of Criminal Law

Definition: the body of laws that prohibit and punish acts that injure people, property, and society as a whole.


Protect people and property

Maintain order

Preserve standards of public decency

The criminal code

The Criminal Code

The Criminal Codeis a Federal statute that contains the majority of criminal laws passed by Parliament.

It lists not only the offences, but also the sentences (penalties) to be imposed and the procedures to follow when trying those accused of crimes.

Why would Parliament enact new criminal laws?

Law in your life

Law in Your Life

Examine “Law in Your Life” side note on page 141.

Section 43 of the Criminal Code:

Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

Other statutes containing criminal offences

Other Statutes containing Criminal Offences

Controlled Drug and Substances Act

The Customs Act

The Competition Act

The Youth Criminal Justice Act

Food and Drug Act

Income Tax Act

Criminal law jurisdiction

Criminal Law - Jurisdiction

Federal jurisdiction to establish and revise criminal laws for the country.

Administration is shared between provincial and federal governments.

Provinces are responsible to pay for their own provincial judicial system and appoint judges.

Laws created by provinces or municipalities

Laws Created by Provinces or Municipalities

Q - If the federal government is responsible for creating and revising the criminal code, what do we call laws created by provinces and municipalities?

A – quasi-criminal laws

Laws created by provinces or municipalities1

Laws Created by Provinces or Municipalities

Q – What do these laws govern?

A – generally less serious offences, usually punishable by a fine. However, jail sentences may apply in certain cases.



Page 143 – Building Your Understanding

The elements of a crime

The Elements of a Crime

Two elements must usually exist in order to be convicted of committing a crime

Actus Reus + Mens Rea = Crime

The elements of a crime1

The Elements of a Crime

  • Actus Reus

    • “the guilty act” demonstrates a voluntaryaction, omission or state of being that is prohibited by law

  • Mens Rea

    • “the guilty mind” demonstrates that the act was intentional, knowing, negligent, reckless, or wilfully blind

R v macgillivary

R. v. MacGillivary

  • Page 144

    • Read the case

    • We will examine the questions together

      • Be prepared to state your answer and defend your position

Actus reus

Actus Reus

What about Omissions?

failure to provide the necessities of life

What about offences that are neither an act or an omission but a state of being?

possession of stolen goods

being in a gaming or common bawdy house

Act or state of being must be voluntary

Mens rea

Mens Rea

Intent – a state of mind in which someone desires to carry out a wrongful action, knows what the results will be, and is reckless regarding the consequences

Q. – is there an age limit to be considered capable of forming mens rea?

Types of intent

Types of Intent

General Intent – the desire to commit a wrongful act, with no ulterior motive or purpose

e.g. striking someone because you’re mad

Specific Intent – the desire to commit one wrongful act for the sake of accomplishing another

e.g. striking someone so you can steal something from him/her

Types of intent1

Types of Intent

What’s the difference?

Is one easier to prove then the other?

Which would apply in the following crimes?



Is intoxication a defence with regard to mens rea?

Case p. 148

Intent or motive

Intent or Motive?

What’s the difference?

Intent – a state of mind in which someone desires to carry out a wrongful action, knows what the results will be, and is reckless regarding the consequences

Motive – the reason someone commits a crime

Mens rea1

Mens Rea

Can knowledge of certain information be enough to establish mens rea?

Knowledge: an awareness of certain facts that can be used to establish mens rea


Fraudulent/forged documents

Mens rea2

Mens Rea

  • Criminal Negligence

  • Everyone is criminally negligent who:

  • In doing anything, or

  • In omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons

  • Examples?

Mens rea3

Mens Rea

Recklessness: consciously taking an unjustifiable risk that a reasonable person would not take


Wilful Blindness: a deliberate closing of one’s mind to the possible consequences of one’s actions


Case – p149

Father jailed in death of son page 146

Father Jailed in Death of Sonpage 146

Examine the case and be prepared to discuss

Mens rea strict and absolute liability

Mens Rea:Strict and Absolute Liability

Mens Rea is not necessary for some less serious offences, such as those against regulatory laws.

Strict Liability offences: offences that do not require mens rea but to which the accused can offer the defence of due diligence

Absolute liability offences: offences that do not require mens rea and to which the accused can offer no defence



Can simply attempting an act be a criminal offence?

See case on page 151

Involvement in a crime

Involvement in a Crime

Perpetrator: the person who actually commits the crime

Parties to an offence: those people who are indirectly involved in committing a crime

Aiding: a criminal offence that involves helping a perpetrator commit a crime

Abetting: the crime of encouraging the perpetrator to commit an offence

Involvement in a crime1

Involvement in a Crime

Counselling: a crime that involves advising, recommending, or persuading another to commit a criminal offence


Accessories after the fact: someone who knowingly receives, comforts, or assists a perpetrator in escaping from the police


Involvement in a crime2

Involvement in a Crime

Party to Common Intention: the shared responsibility among criminals for any additional offences that are committed in the course of the crime they originally intended to commit


Incomplete crimes

Incomplete Crimes

Attempt: the intention to commit a crime, even when the crime is not completed

Conspiracy: an agreement between two or more people to carry out an illegal act, even if that act does not actually occur


Parties to an offence

Parties to an Offence

Create your own scenario

BLM 6-3

Case study requirements

Case Study requirements

  • Use the following outline:

  • Provide the relevant facts (offence, people involved in the offence, and damages/injuries) in your own words

  • Actus reus and Mens rea applicable to this case

  • Answers to the questions

  • Criteria applicable to reaching a judgement

Additional cases group presentations

Additional Cases:group presentations

R. v. Hackett

R. v. Vang

R. v. Canhoto

R. v. Imperial Oil

R. v. Jackson

R. v. Genereux

R. v. Vinokurov

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