Criminal Law, quite simply, is the body of law regulating crime and criminal activity. It pertains to conduct considered to be a wrong against the whole of the community, rather than against private individuals, as regulated by areas such as Tort and Contract. Somewhat related is the Law of Evidence which seeks to answer the questions of how the prosecution go about proving guilt, whether there any restrictions on the type of evidence that the prosecution can use to prove its case, and what protections the law offers to defendants in order to safeguard them against false conviction.
Here you will find a selection of 12 dissertation topics and ideas on crimial and evidence law. We have provided these topics to help you write your own great law dissertation.
Example Dissertation Topics & Ideas
1. Is the Defence of Diminished Responsibility fairly construed under English Law?
The defence of diminished responsibility is defined under the Homicide Act 1957 (HA 1957) s. 2(1) (as amended by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (CJOA 2009)) and can only be a defence in murder (Campbell  Crim LR 495). The result would be that the defendant must show that s/he has; 1) a medical condition; 2) this medical condition impaired their ability; and 3) provides and explanation for the act that resulted in death of another. This model has been criticised as being overly limited; thus this topic will be explored if the defence and its application should be extended, especially with regards to human rights concerns.
2. The general principle in Criminal Law is that a person is responsible for his crimes only. The principle of qui peccat per allum per se is not a maxim of criminal law (Tesco v Natrass  AC 153). However, there is a growing body of law demanding fairness, which requires corporations to become liable for the acts of its organs?
This topic will explore the exceptions to when an individual will be liable for crimes of others. The main areas that this discussion will explore are: vicarious liability; and 2) the role of accessories and conspirators under criminal law. Thus, it will consider if these exceptions are fair and proportionate response to an act of collusion; as opposed to an individual committing the crime.
3. Is the law of rape sufficient to protect rightful victims, but prevent the misuse of the provisions by bogus “victims”?
There is a very important balance to be developed in the law of rape, because it can be difficult to distinguish between a “real” and “bogus” claim. The result of this is that consent and sexual history of the victim can be important factors; albeit these questions should not extend past the alleged offence by the victim (ss. 41-3 Youth Justice & Criminal Evidence Act 1999, R v Kevin John Cartwright, unreported, (2007)). However, as the case of R v A  UKHL 25 identified the relationship between the victim and offender is relevant, because it may lend to consent. The problem is that the law is putting the victim on trial, which indicates an imbalance in the system.
4. Is the criminal law’s approach to Omissions sufficient?
This topic will explore to what extent there should be criminal liability for omissions, which means the consideration between criminal negligence and recklessness will be explored. In the case of R v Miller  1 All ER 978 it was held that if the conduct of an omission is the same as a positive act then there should be criminal liability. This is a controversial approach, because the traditional model is that a person should only be criminally liable for a positive act. Thus, this topic will explore the English and other common law jurisdictions to determine the viability of applications.
5. Are the modern approaches to the definition of intention in English Criminal Law fit for purpose?
The issue of intention is at the heart of criminal liability, because knowledge of a crime and intention can vary. In the case of the mentally ill the knowledge of undertaking the act may not equate to intention. Also, the issue of automatism creates a difficult line to determine when there is and is not the necessary intention. Bratty v AG for Northern Ireland  AC 386 (HL) held that for a crime that requires mens rea it is necessary for the requisite intention to be identified. Thus, this topic will explore the difficulties in ascertaining intention.
6. Should the Law Commission’s Report 2006 on the reform of Homicide be enacted into English Law?
This topic will examine if the reform of homicide is necessary, because there was a warm reception of the Law Commission’s Report. However, as of today there has not been any movement to implementing the reforms. Thus, this examination will identify if the three tier approach to homicide should be implemented into English law.
7. Is the law on Corporate Manslaughter fit for purpose?
The Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 (CMHA 2007) is a long awaited and necessary addition to English company law, but there are questions over its effectiveness. The main problem with this act is that it remains centred on the attribution model identified in Lennard’s Carrying Co Ltd v Asiatic Petroleum Co Ltd  AC 705. Thus, this examination will critique the effectiveness of attribution model through the management; as opposed to developing a model based on a pure gross negligence test with the duty of due diligence in management to discharge vicarious liability. Thus, the English model will be compared with the Italian and US models to ascertain if reform of the Act is needed.
8. Is the law on Confessions and ill-Gotten Evidence sufficiently balanced in English law or should the fruit from the poison tree principle be applied?
This topic will undertake a comparative approach between the US (Arizona v Evans, 116 s. CT. 1185 (1995)) and English (R v Sang  AC 402) approaches to confessions and ill-gotten evidence. Thus, it will explore the approaches under s. 76 and s. 78 of PACE 1984 with the model applied in the US. It will consider if the fruit from the poison tree should be implemented in English Evidence Law or not.
9. To what extent should DNA and Forensic evidence be scrutinised by the legal protections, because such evidence can be perceived as indefensible by juries?
This topic will explore if the treatment of DNA and Forensic evidence is properly scrutinised under English law. Thus, it will explore the case law and miscarriages of justice to determine if there should be greater scrutiny on how this evidence is presented. This is important to ensure fair representation to the jury, in order to prevent misrepresentations. Also it will draw upon the secrecy of the jury process and the treatment of such evidence, which may stem from fatally flawed perceptions.
10. Should Bad Character Evidence have a role to play during the trial process; especially as such evidence is a breach of due process in other jurisdictions?
This topic will explore the allowance of bad character evidence in English law, which is significantly different from the US model. Thus, this examination will undertake a comparative review of the bad character provisions of ss. 98 to 113 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003) to determine if these provisions can amount to a breach of due process.
11. To what extent are the English Rules surrounding Competence and Compellability in Evidence law fit for purpose?
This topic will explore the provisions surrounding issues such as the “right to silence” and the rights of the spouse in regards to giving evidence. This examination will be a comparative review of US and English law, which are distinctly different; whereby the rationale of the US system is based on protecting Constitutional Rights. Thus, one could argue that there is a breach of due process in English law, and it is this question that will be explored in this topic.
12. Is the treatment of expert witness evidence in English Law fit for purpose in the 21st Century?
This topic will undertake a comparative review of US, Australian and English law on the role of expert witnesses, in order to determine if the English model is in need of reform. The Law Commission’s 2011 Report on Expert Witnesses will be examined as the basis for possible reforms, in which the Australian Bonython (1984) 38 SASR 45 has played an important comparison, and has even been cited in English case law (Luttrell  EWCA Crim 1344). Thus, this examination will determine the viability of the Law Commission’s proposed reforms.
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