Elements of a crime
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Elements of a Crime. CLU3M Unit 3: Criminal Law. Convicting. To convict a person of a criminal offence in Canada, the Crown must usually prove that two elements existed at the time an offence was committed The act itself ( Actus Reus) And the intention to commit the act ( M ens Rea)

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Elements of a crime

Elements of a Crime

CLU3M Unit 3: Criminal Law



  • To convict a person of a criminal offence in Canada, the Crown must usually prove that two elements existed at the time an offence was committed

  • The act itself (Actus Reus)

  • And the intention to commit the act (Mens Rea)

  • Actus Reus + Mens Rea= Crime

Actus reus

Actus Reus

  • Most crimes involve an action that causes:

  • Harm or loss to a person or group

  • Damage to property

  • Actus Reus in Latin means: The Guilty Act

  • Section 265 (1) (a)- a person commits assault when “without consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that person directly or indirectly”.

  • The physical wrongful act is defined clearly

  • See R. v. Boudreau

Actus reus1

Actus Reus

  • Failing to do something can also be considered a wrongful act

  • This is called “omission”

  • Wrongful act can also include “a state of being”- being in possession of stolen goods or being in a gaming or betting house

  • Actusreus must be voluntary- if you are under duress, or if you have an involuntary movement you are not committing a wrongful act- epilepsy

Mens rea

Mens Rea

  • Second element that in most cases must be present with actusreus for a criminal offence to be committed

  • Mena rea: Guilty Mind- moral guilt

  • Accused person deliberately did something he or she knew to be wrong, with reckless disregard for the consequences

  • The Crown can establish Mensrea by showing that the accused had the intent to commit an offence or knowledge that what he or she did was against the law

Elements within mens rea intent

Elements within Mens Rea- Intent

  • Intent: meant to do a crime, was reckless regarding the consequences and knew or should have foreseen the results of the wrongful act

  • 2 different kinds of intent

  • General Intent: a person commits a wrongful act for its own sake (no ulterior motive)

    Brittany punches Kelly because she is angry- only thing you need to prove is that Brittany punches Kelly

Elements within mens rea

Elements within Mens Rea

  • Specific intent- someone commits a wrongful act in order to accomplish another.

  • Brittany punches Kelly with the intention of then taking something valuable from her

  • The Crown would then have to show that Brittany hit Kelly but also that Brittany intended to steal something from Kelly (by the way that is what the crime of Robbery is)

  • The importance of these two types of intent will become clearer- what is easier to prosecute and/or defend

Elements within mens rea1

Elements within Mens Rea

  • *the issue of motive

  • A motive is the reason a person commits a crime.

  • Intent refers to a person’s state of mind and willingness to break the law

  • Motive is useful evidence but doesn’t prove state of mind

  • Disregard when on TV shows they talk about the importance of motive



  • Knowledge- an awareness of certain facts that can be used to establish a criminal mind

  • 368 of the Criminal Code- everyone, who knowing that a document is forged, uses, deals or acts upon it” is guilty of the offence of circulating forged documents

  • The word in the law “knowing” identifies the mensrea. The Crown would only have to show that the accused knew the document he or she used was forged

Criminal negligence

Criminal Negligence

  • Mens Rea can also be shown if the accused is proven to be negligent in their actions

  • The accused failed under certain circumstances to take precautions that any reasonable person would take to avoid causing harm to another person (meaning they showed disregard)

  • Xander leaves a loaded .22 calibre target pistol on the top of the night table beside his bed. One day his daughter takes the pistol and accidentally shoots her friend

  • Xander’smensrea is the disregard he showed by leaving a loaded firearm in a place within reach of a child-



  • Consciously taking an unjustifiable risk that a reasonable person would not take

  • Assume that you know you need prescription glasses to drive a car safely

  • You have misplaced your glasses at your friends house

  • You decide to drive anyway and as a result you veer into oncoming traffic and cause an accident

  • You showed the necessary mensrea because you took an unjustifiable risk and acted reckless

  • R. v. S.D.D.

Willful blindness

Willful Blindness

  • Deliberately closing your mind to the possible consequences of your actions

  • You are considered willfully blind when you are aware of the need to make an inquiry but failed to do so because you do not wish to know the truth

  • Luc comes up to you one day and says he can sell you a really nice laptop for a low price. You look at the laptop and oddly enough it says IE Weldon it. You know full well you should maybe look into how Luc got this laptop but you think the deal is to good and buy it anyway

  • That is being willfully blind. R. v. Harding

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