Criminal Law Essay

The area of criminal law we are dealing with is murder and its defences. There are 3 specific murder defences these are diminished responsibility, killing in pursuance of a suicide part and provocation. I will be discussing provocation and diminished responsibility as a defence to the problem question. To examine whether Amina is liable for murder and to see if she could use diminished responsibility and provocation as a defence, it is crucial to understand what murder is and what factors need to be present for a liability in murder to suffice.

The accepted definition of murder is “… when a man of a sound memory, and of the age of discretion, unlawfully killeth within any country of the realm any reasonable creature in rerum natura under the king’s peace, with malice aforethought, either expressed by the party or implied by law” this was stated by Lord Coke.

For a murder offence to occur both actus reus and men rea must be proven. The actus reus is a physical element of a crime it can be an act or an omission (failure to act) or a state of affairs. The two terms derive from a Latin maxim actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, the act itself does not constitute to guilt unless done with a guilty mind. Lord Diplock in Miller 1983 criticised the misleading term of guilty act and used “external element” instead.

The mens rea is the mental element of murder and was known as ‘malice aforethought’ but now mainly deals with specific intent. Mens rea is a concept of common law and now consists of an intention to kill any person, and an intention to cause grievously body harm. Intention derived form the case of Woollin, which was later applied to Matthew and Alleyene 2003. Intention can be divided in two parts, direct intent and oblique intent (foresight of consequenes). Direct intent concerns the aim or result in mind and intents to achieve that thought. Oblique intent is when the defendant has one purpose but when achieving that purpose causes another...