Law, Fault Essay (Aqa)

2549 words 11 pages
Fault Essay (30 marks)
Fault can be defined as legal responsibility or blame for an offence or misdeed. It also refers to the mental state of the defendant. The basic principle is that a D should be able to contemplate the harm that his actions may cause and should therefore aim to avoid such actions.
In general, a person cannot be criminally liable and subjected to criminal sanctions unless it can be proved that he carried out an illegal act in a blameworthy manner. An act does not make a man guilty of a crime unless his mind is also guilty.
The state of mind of the D is hugely important in assessing whether or not he is at fault. However, to be found guilty of most criminal offences (true crimes) both an AR and MR must be proved. The
…show more content…

It can be argued that the decision in Vickers confirmed in Cunningham leaves the level of fault too low (perhaps intent to kill should constitute murder, not intent to do serious harm as the law currently stands). Also, it seems unfair that the law treats defendants with different levels of blameworthiness in the same manner. The D who intends GBH and the D who intends to kill both end up with mandatory life sentences if their acts result in an unlawful killing.
Theft and some deception offences also require specific intent. The property offences require high level of fault, not only proof of intent but also dishonesty or deception. In Madeley, the host of the Richard and Judy show was charged with shoplifting in 1990 but the D was not guilty of theft as he was able to show he was suffering from stress and merely forgot to pay for the goods. Clarke was in many ways similar. She transferred some items from her shopping basket to her bag before paying for them. She was able to show that she suffered from absent-mindedness due to depression. She therefor lacked the MR for theft, as did Madeley, so in both cases D was acquitted.
Some crimes can be committed with the MR of recklessness. These are basic intent crimes. The degree of fault is less than of that in a specific intent crime. Subjective recklessness involves finding that D realised there was a risk involved, but went