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What is a crime? Page 159. A crime is any act or omission of an act that is prohibited or punishable by a federal statute.

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What is a crime page 159
What is a crime?Page 159

A crime is any act or omission of an act that is prohibited or punishable by a federal statute.

In plain English, this means that some things that people do or some things that people don’t do that they are supposed to do (like stopping if they have hit someone with their car) are listed as crimes under laws passed by the federal government.

Federal laws
Federal laws

Most crimes are found in the Criminal Code of Canada but there are other federal laws dealing with things like drugs, income tax, youth criminal offences, and customs.

What makes a crime a crime
What makes a crime a crime?

In order for an act or the omission of an act to be considered a crime, 4 conditions have to exist:

1. The act is considered wrong by society. What society considers wrong changes all the time. Read the examples in your text on page 159.

The purpose of criminal law is to
The purpose of criminal law is to: need protection.

  • Protect people and property

  • Maintain order

  • Preserve the standards of public decency

The criminal code of canada
The Criminal Code of Canada need protection.

  • Federal statute

  • Is meant to reflect the values of Canadians

  • Lists most of the criminal laws and their sentences

  • Complete handout # 1.

Elements of a crime

Elements of a Crime need protection.

Page 164

Elements of a crime page 164
Elements of a need protection. CrimePage 164

Actus Reus + Mens Rea = Crime

If there is not both actusreus and mensrea, it is not a crime.

Actus reus
Actus need protection. Reus

  • The “guilty act”

  • The physical act of committing the crime

  • The written law tells you what the physical act is. (i.e. the Criminal Code makes it a crime to “leave the scene of an accident”)

  • The need protection. Actus Reus might be a:

    • commission: doing something you’re not supposed to do

    • omission: not doing something you are required to do

    • state of being : being in possession of; being found in a gaming house

Mens rea page 166
Mens need protection. rea(page 166):

  • Is the state of a person’s mind and in order for a crime to have been committed, the person must have had a “guilty mind”.

  • The mensreamust be present with the actus Reus in order for a crime to have been committed.

Intent: need protection.

A state of mind in which someone desires to carry out a wrongful act, with reckless disregard for the consequences.

- meant to do something that was wrong

- knew it was wrong

- was reckless with regard to the consequences

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

Intent is not motive.

The motive is the reason that someone committed a crime and it never has to be proved although sometimes the evidence of a motive can be good evidence.

For each crime, you have to look to the written law to find out what the required mensreaisfor that particular crime.

There are different types of mens rea 5 but number 5 has 2 parts
There are different types of out what the required Mens Rea (5, but number 5 has 2 parts)

1. Knowledge

To prove this Mens Rea, the Crown Prosecutor (the lawyer who represents the “state”) must prove that the person accused of a crime knew certain things.

Ex. s. 368 (1) (a) CCC

“Every one who, knowing that a document is forged, uses, deals or acts upon it”. In this case the mensrea is “knowing” and the actusreusis “using, dealing with or acting upon”.

2 criminal negligence
2. Criminal negligence out what the required

Wanton or reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others, sometimes causing serious injury or death.

To show this Mens Rea, the Crown must show that the accused failed, under certain circumstances, to take steps that any reasonable person would take to avoid causing harm to another person.

Ex. S. 209 (1) CCC out what the required

Every one is criminally negligent who

a. in doing anything, or

b. 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.

3 recklessness
3. Recklessness out what the required

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

Ex. Someone who needs glasses for driving isn’t wearing them and does not see a child in the street until it is too late to stop his car.

4 wilful blindness
4. out what the required Wilful blindness

a deliberate closing of one’s mind to the possible consequences of one’s actions.

(i.e. A reasonable person would have asked; you should have asked)

Ex. Someone offers to sell you a used laptop for $10. You buy it and the police charge you with possession of stolen goods. You won’t be successful with a defence of “I didn’t know it was stolen” because a reasonable person would have looked into it more.

5 strict and absolute liability
5. Strict and absolute liability out what the required

These are usually some less serious offences

They are regulatory laws (provincial or federal) meant to protect the public welfare. (environmental)

Liability out what the required is the legal responsibility for a wrongful act.

For example, I would probably be liable if I was driving too fast in a school zone and hit someone.

A strict liability
a. Strict liability out what the required

In this case, the accused may acknowledge that the offence took place but use the defence of due diligence.

Due diligence is taking every reasonable step to avoid committing the offence in question.

See the example in your text on page 171 (Acme Waste Disposal)

B absolute liability
b. Absolute liability out what the required

There is no real defence to an absolute liability offence – The Crown just has to prove that the offence took place and that the accused was responsible for it.

Ex. Driving without a license


Review out what the required

  • Questions 1 to 6 on page 173.