I. The Elements of Criminal Offences

AuthorKent Roach
ProfessionFaculty of Law and Centre of Criminology. University of Toronto

Page 9

The basic elements of a criminal offence are the act or omission that is prohibited by the legislation, or the actus reus, and the fault element, or mens rea, with which the accused must commit the prohibited act or omission. The Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the prohibited act, and did so with the required fault element. There is also a general requirement that the accused have the necessary fault or mens rea at the same time as the prohibited act or actus reus occurred. For murder, the Crown would have to prove that the accused committed the prohibited act of causing another person’s death, and at the same time had the fault element of knowing that the victim’s death was likely to occur. It is possible that the accused could commit a criminal act without the required fault, and in such a case, the accused would not be convicted.

The Crown must, subject to exceptions justified under section 1 of the Charter, also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did not have a relevant defence. An...

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