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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.

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What is a crime? Page 159

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. The act causes harm to society in general or to those who need protection. For example, when someone steals from a store, we all pay as the store’s insurance goes up and we pay more for what that store sells.

  5. The harm must be serious. • The remedy must be handled by the crimial justice system. (police, courts)

  6. The purpose of criminal law is to: • Protect people and property • Maintain order • Preserve the standards of public decency

  7. The Criminal Code of Canada • Federal statute • Is meant to reflect the values of Canadians • Lists most of the criminal laws and their sentences • Complete handout # 1.

  8. Elements of a Crime Page 164

  9. Elements of a CrimePage 164 Actus Reus + Mens Rea = Crime If there is not both actusreus and mensrea, it is not a crime.

  10. Actus 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”)

  11. The 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

  12. For an act to be wrongful, it must be voluntary. (guilty mind = moral guilt) (i.e. Sleepwalking, threat, medical condition)

  13. Mensrea(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.

  14. Intent: 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

  15. 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.

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

  17. There are different types of 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”.

  18. 2. Criminal negligence 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.

  19. Ex. S. 209 (1) CCC 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. http://www.cbc.ca/shift/2012/03/13/father-sentenced-in-methadone-death/

  20. 3. Recklessness 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.

  21. 4. 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.

  22. 5. Strict and absolute liability These are usually some less serious offences They are regulatory laws (provincial or federal) meant to protect the public welfare. (environmental)

  23. Liability 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.

  24. a. Strict liability 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)

  25. b. Absolute liability 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 Speeding

  26. Review • Questions 1 to 6 on page 173.

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