Actus Reus – Introduction
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2.1.1 Actus Reus – Introduction

Welcome to the first lesson of this module guide. We will begin with the Actus Reus. ‘Actus reus’ can be loosely translated as ‘guilty act’ and is a vital component when attempting to assess the criminal liability of an individual.

The actus reus of an offence can be found in statute or common law. There are various different ways in which an actus reus can arise, and also a plethora of ways in which it can be negated.

This section will begin by identifying and explaining the various types of actus reus’, examining how they may arise and what kind of conduct is required. Following, there will be an examination of the actus reus’ relationship with an offence as a whole through causation.

Below are some goals and objectives for you to refer to after learning this section.

Goals for this section

  • To understand the importance of the actus reus to an offence and criminal law
  • To understand what an actus reus is
  • To understand when an actus reus will be operative
  • To understand when an actus reus can be negated

Objectives for this section

  • To be able to define and explain different types of Actus Reus’
  • To be able to identify what type of Actus Reus an offence is
  • To be able to identify whether an Actus Reus arises from a positive act or an omission
  • To be able to explain the exceptions for omissions amounting to an actus reus
  • To be able to identify whether an actus reus caused the harm through the principles of causation
  • To be able to apply the test for factual causation
  • To be able to apply the test for legal causation
  • To be able to identify acts which will break the chain of causation
  • To be able to explain when the act of a third party will break the chain of causation
  • To be able to explain when medical intervention will break the chain of causation
  • To be able to explain when acts of the victim will break the chain of causation
  • To be able to explain and apply the eggshell skull rule in the context of the actus reus

Start the Lecture

We have three lengths of lecture to suit varying study needs. Select one of the options below to get started (if you have already chosen a study level you will see the option highlighted in violet):

Summary Notes Standard Lecture Detailed Lecture

Problem Questions

Each lecture is also accompanied by hands on examples of problem questions for the subject. You can jump directly to the questions below:

Hands on Examples


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