The first area of criminal law that we’re going to go over is the five elements.
All 5 elements must be proven in order for the prosecution to get a conviction.
The first element is.
1. actus Reus: a guilty act, that is done consciously and voluntarily. Are we going to hold somebody criminally liable for an act that is not volitional and not voluntary? no.
2. mens rea
3. concurrence of actus Reyes and men’s Raya
5. A resulting injury or crime
Some examples of nonvolitional acts would be someone who’s driving a car has no history of being ill and they have a stroke and they hit somebody on a sidewalk.
Are they going to be guilty of the crime of hitting somebody on that sidewalk for that nonvolitional act? No. But your state will claim it is a crime against that person and you must be punished for it and pay a fine.
When the police show up they will want to collect revenue for you causing an accident.
Another classic example of someone who commits a crime where it’s not volitional is when they’re sleepwalking.
People have actually been found not guilty of murder because their defense was that they had a sleepwalking disorder and they committed the murder while they were sleepwalking. That is an actual defense that people have used so it’s a nonvolitional act, a non-conscious act that we’re not going to hold people liable for.
Omissions to act.
What’s an omission to act?… that’s when you don’t help somebody who may need some help.
For example, are we going to hold somebody liable for an omission ack the general rule on omission act is that we’re not going to hold somebody liable because you do not owe a duty to go to the aid of another in peril Again the general rule on the omissions to act is you do not owe a duty to go to the rescue of someone who is in peril? exceptions yes. That’s the whole thing about law is that we have lots of exceptions to the rules
Where would we find exceptions to the omissions to act? The omissions to act sometimes there are duties to act that is prescribed by law, for example, you have a duty to automatically pay your taxes. If you fail to act and pay your taxes you can be held liable for tax evasion.
Another example is If a lifeguard is being paid to be there to rescue and save people he’s sitting up there flirting with a couple of cute girls and someone’s drowning and he says forget that person I’m going to hit on these girls right here.
If the victim drowns we can hold that lifeguard guilty of involuntary manslaughter for his failure to act because he’s required by contract to act on behalf of the people who are there to protect. Another example would be relationships. Relationships may impose a duty to act. Husband and wife have a duty to come to the aid of each other. Parent-child has a duty to come to the aid of each other or at least the parent does to the child and you might even have under an employee-employer a duty to act so that’s what the actus Reis is about.
Remember it’s a volitional act that is conscious.