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Principles - actus reus - guilty conduct

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It is customary to separate crime into actus reus and mens rea.

Actus reus is the prohibited conduct, omission, consequence or state-of-affairs;

Any fault element, such as intent or recklessness, in respect of it is the mens rea (state of mind).


Actus reus is the external manifestation of the offence.

Actus reus is the guilty conduct.  The actus reus includes all the elements in the definition of the crime except the accused's mental element.


The mental element is the mens rea, the guilty mind.


Cardinal principle.

Actus reus is a part of the cardinal principle of criminal law that conduct does not make a person legally guilty unless it is accompanied by a blameworthy state of mind.


"actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea"


Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea.

This expression is derived from Coke's brocard in his Institutes, Part III (1797 ed.), c.1 fo.10: "et actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea"

"No act is punishable unless it is performed with a criminal mind."

The requirement of ‘fault’ is called mens rea, it is required in all crimes except in strict liability offences.


Actus reus is found in the definition of the offence.

Always refer to the definition of the particular offence in order to ascertain its actus reus.


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