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1. Introduction to Criminal Law

Criminal Law is one of the essential core subject areas required for a qualifying law degree. Crime is a common part of everyday life. Crime is around us in many forms and it is a feature of everyday news. Thus, most students will be familiar with what each offence is. However, it is important to understand that focus must be placed on legal principles derived form legislation and case law, as common conceptions of crime can be very different to its actual elements.

Criminal liability can be imposed in many instances. There is no universal definition of crime in modern criminal law. This can change over time as a result of social and political influences. It is also important to differentiate between a criminal and a civil wrong. This module covers the most popular criminal law offences and will aim to explain and take you through how and why criminal liability can be imposed on a defendant, giving you an in-depth understanding of the nature of criminal liability.

There are many offences that will be discussed in this module. They include, for example, murder, assault, fraud, sexual and property offenses and other. Thus, it is not possible to provide one definition that encompasses all these criminal offences, considering how each offence has its own specific elements.

From the chapters that follow, you will be able to recognise whether a liability can be established only by determining the following three things:

  1. Whether the Defendant is responsible for the specific conduct attributable to the offence in question (actus reus), and:
  2. Whether the Defendant had the state of mind (mens rea) necessary, and:
  3. Whether or not there is a relevant defence.

Table of Contents

  1. Committing an Offence
  2. Fatal Offences
  3. Non-fatal Offences
  4. Property Offences
  5. Fraud
  6. Sexual Offences
  7. General Inchoate Offences
  8. Parties to Crime
  9. Denials & Defences