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Unit 3 Criminal Law
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  1. Unit 3 Criminal Law Chapter 4

  2. Criminal Law • Deals with offences committed against society Example: “break and enter” • Charged under the criminal code (determined by parliament – reflects the values of society) • If found guilty – fined, imprisoned or community service • Penalties fail to compensate the victim • Victims must sue for damages under civil law

  3. Need for Criminal Law • Keep order in society • Offers penalties for crimes help deter • Does little to compensate victims • Public wants: • criminal law should protect people and property • Some want harsh penalties to discourage potential offenders or to punish wrongdoers • Some want rehabilitation

  4. Nature of Criminal Law • Parliament decides what is a crime and passes laws to change the Criminal Code • Criminal Code reflects the values of society • Hot topics = Heated debates (euthanasia, gun control, abortion, marijuana, pornography

  5. For an act to be subject to criminal penalties • The action must harm other people • The action must violate the basic values of society • Using the law to deal with the action must not violate the basic values of society • Criminal law can make a significant contribution to resolving the problem • Any reform to the Criminal Code must take these conditions into consideration

  6. The Power to make Criminal law • 1867 – Provinces gave jurisdiction over criminal law to the federal parliament • to decide which actions were crimes and set punishments for crimes • Quasi-Criminal Law – those laws passed by the provinces / territories / municipalities that are not considered part of criminal law • Don’t deal with actual crimes • Example: Highway Traffic Act, city bylaws • Acts usually result in a fine

  7. The Criminal Code • Criminal Code is the main source of criminal law in Canada • Other Criminal offences are listed in statutes passed by Parliament (Controlled Drugs and Substances Act) • Describes offences that are considered crimes, as well as punishments for crime • Judiciary (judges and courts) • interpret the criminal laws and apply them to individual cases • Determines if a law trespasses upon citizen’s rights as outline in the Charter • Determine and follow precedence

  8. Types of Criminal Offences Summary Conviction Offences • Minor • Can be summoned to court without delay • Max. penalty: $2000 and/or 6 months in jail • Other statutes may have more severe penalties Indictable Offences • Serious crimes • Criminal Code – set up max penalties for each offence • Penalty decided by the trial judge • Some indictable offences have min. penalties that judge must impose (D & D = $600 – 5 years imprisonment)

  9. Types of Criminal Offences continued Hybrid Offences • Crown attorney has the right to proceed summarily and impose a less severe punishment, or to proceed by indictment • Example: Theft (see page 108 “The Law”)

  10. The Elements of a Crime Actus reus – wrongful deed • Must b shown that the person committed an act prohibited by law • Failure to do something (example: for parents to withhold the necessities of life for their children) Mens Rea – guilty mind • Intent or Knowledge: based on the facts and what a reasonable person would be thinking under the circumstances • Intent – the true purpose of the act • General intent- intent is limited to the act itself (assault – crown need only prove the intent to apply force • Specific Intent- when the person committing the offence has a further criminal purpose • Law considers some people incapable of forming intent (mental illness, minors, being extremely drunk or high Case Example: R. v. Molodowic (text page 109)

  11. The Elements of a Crime continued Mens Rea – guilty mind • Intent or Knowledge: Continued • Knowledge- knowledge of facts – prove mens rea • Motive- reason for committing an offence • Not the same as intent • Does not establish guilt of the accused • Can be used as circumstantial (indirect) evidence • Recklessness • Careless disregard for the possible result of an action • People don’t intend to harm others however they understand the risks of their actions and proceed anyway • Must be proven by the Crown attorney, beyond a reasonable doubt that actus reus and mens rea existed

  12. Offences without a Mens Rea • Usually violations of federal or provincial regulations passed to protect the public (speeding) • Regulatory offences • Carry less penalties • Don’t carry stigma associated with criminal convictions • 2 Types • Strict Liability Offences • Absolute Liability offences Case: R.v. Wilson…. Page 111, read and answer questions1-4 Case: R.v. Memarzaheh… Page 111. read and answer questions 1-3

  13. Offences without a Mens Rea Continued • Strict liability offences: • The liability is said to be strict because the defendants will be convicted even though they were genuinely ignorant of one or more factors that made their acts criminal – no need to prove mens rea • Therefore it is only necessary to prove the offence was committed • Due diligence: defense used by the defendant (took care not to commit the offence or honestly believed in a mistaken set of facts) • Absolute liability offences: • Crown need only prove actus reus • no possible defence (no act was taken to prevent) • if the person committed actus reus, he or she is guilty, no matter what precautions were taken to avoid committing the offence (can’t use due diligence) • law does not specify which regulatory offences are strict liability or absolute • prison term for an absolute liability is unconstitutional

  14. Attempt • intends to commit the crime, but fails • actus reus for attempt begins in the first steps towards committing the crime (preparatory stages are decided by judge or jury) • can be tried for the act it’s self Conspiracy • agreement between two or more people to commit a crime or to achieve something legal by doing something illegal

  15. Parties to an Offence Aiding or Abetting • committing or encouraging (respectively) Accessory After the Fact • helping someone escape (includes providing food, clothing of shelter) • harbouring a criminal • Excluding spouses