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Sunday, 7 April 2013

Essential Elements Scenario

            The liability of Jim and the hospital can be explained by the classical example of watching a man drown in a shallow river yet making no effort to rescue him. The phrase "Thou shalt not kill but needst not strive, officiously, to keep another alive." Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861) was coined to explain that one will not be held liable for watching another die. Basing on this, he did no crime. The morality of the deed is what may be in question especially since there was no danger involved in his attempting to save the victim.

            This can especially be seen in the fact that he actually went to see if there was anything he could steal from the victim but left the victim on the floor. Steven punched the victim and left him gasping for breadth on the floor. The victim was acutely asthmatic and this is probably the reason why he died. It can be argued that Steven can be charged with assault but not manslaughter since he had no way of knowing that the victim was asthmatic. For this same reason, the hospital will not be held liable for administering drugs that resulted in the victim’s death.
Actus Reus
            In the English criminal law, failure of taking action or an omission can lead to a person being responsible for a guilty act (actus reus). Usually, this kind of actus reus can lead to liability if the law is able to establish a duty (Cross, 2009). For instance, Stephen hit Stacey and left her laying on the floor gasping for breadth. It can be agued that he had a duty to check on the victim to make sure all was well before leaving. Similarly, Jim observed the victim die and was even come close enough as seen when he came to see if there was anything he could steal. It is immoral to see someone in dire need of help and do nothing about it especially if your life was not threatened by the act of kindness. This fact will make Jim face the charge of Actus Reus  
Eggshell Rule
            The novurs actus interveniens principle literally means “a new act of intervening.” It stipulates that a person’s third party action can actually serve as intervention for the primary act of omission (Law Teacher, 2009). In this case, the hospital’s act of administering drugs that the victim was allergic to can be said to have caused the death of the victim thereby negating the guiltiness of the accused. furthermore, the eggshell rule states that if a person had a skull that was as fragile as an egg and another person unaware of this fact came and caused damage to this person, then he would be guilty as “ignorance is no defense” (Hodsgan J., 2007). This in mind, it can be argued that the accused is in fact innocent as the hospital administered the wrong drug albeit in ignorance. The murder can be said to have been done by the hospital staff and not by Steven
Mens Rea
            The mens rea principle starts that unless a person’s mind is guilty, then the he should not be considered guilty.(Martin, 2003). The implication of this is that an actus reus can’t hold water unless there is a mens rea. From this point of view, Steven can not be said to be guilty. There is no proof that it was a premeditated act. It was merely a dispute that resulted in a fight. When Steven left the victim on the floor, there was no proof that he left him for dead. He was in fact ignorant of the fact that the victim was acutely allergic.
            The same school of thought can be used to acquit the hospital. The staff was in fact acting in good faith when they administered the drugs. They didn’t know that the victim was allergic to the specific drugs and they were in fact administered the drugs to save his life and not to take it. The minds of the staff, just like that of Steven, can therefore be said to be free from guilty and thereby in the spirit of the mens rea principle, they were innocent of the act of murder.

Cross, N. (2009) Criminal law and Criminal Justice. Sage Publication Ltd, London
Hodsgan , J. (2007) The Tort Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Law Teacher, (2009) Negligence - Causation and Remoteness.[online] available from             http://www.lawteacher.net/tort-law/lecture-notes/negligence-causation-lecture.php             [accessed 28th             October 2010]
Martin, A. (2003) Oxford Dictionary of Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Moses, R. (2001) Criminal law silver bullets. .[online] available from             http://stclguns.homestead.com/SilverBullets.html [accessed 28th October 2010]

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