Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) – the legislation under the Constitution regarding criminal law within our state.
Crime – ‘any conduct which violates the rights of the community at large, punishable by a recognised criminal sanction upon proof of guilt in a criminal proceeding presented by two parties and a judicial officer.’
Criminal law is concerned with the protection of society.
Criminal actions can be crimes a person, the state and/or property.
The Crown (state) take legal action against an accused, in order to prosecute them and obtain some sort of punishment.
The Crown – state party who commences criminal action in court of law against the offender (DPP), if against a state law.
Crown must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt (standard of proof).
Elements of Crime
Actus Reus – term meaning ‘guilty act’ that refers to the physical act of carrying out a crime (illegal act).
Mens Rea – term meaning ‘guilty mind’, accused intended to commit the crime knowing their action was wrong (intent).
Recklessness – accused was aware that their action could lead to a crime, but chose to take the risk anyway.
Criminal Negligence – accused does not realise the risks associated with their actions committed.
Causation – the behaviour of the accused actually caused the criminal act (mental disorder).
Strict Liability Offences – mens rea does not need to be proved.
Categories of Crime
Offences Against the Person – involves some form of harm or injury to an individual for e.g. homicide, assault or sexual assault.
Offences Against the Sovereign – offences against the state or head of state for e.g. treason, sedition.
Economic Offences – involves crimes against property, white-collar crime and computer offences.
Drug Offences – acts involving prohibited or restricted drugs for e.g. trafficking, possession, use.
Driving Offences – includes speeding, drink driving and negligent driving.
Public Order Offences – acts that are deemed to disturb the public order for e.g. offensive conduct, obstructing traffic, affray and bomb hoaxes.
Preliminary Offences – offences that precede the commission of a crime (attempts, conspiracy).
Regulatory Offences – includes breach of water restrictions or public transport rules.
Summary Offences – less severe and heard in the Local Court by a magistrate.
Indictable Offences – more severe and heard in the Supreme/District Court by a judge and jury.
Parties to a Crime
Principal in First Degree – commits the crime
Principal in Second Degree – assists in committing the crime
Accessory Before the Fact – helped plan the crime
Accessory After the Fact – helped afterwards (e.g. failure to disclose the police, watched it happen (lookout)).
Factors Affecting Criminal Behaviour
Psychological Factors – mental health issues
Social Factors – family situation or personal relationships
Economic Factors – people from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to commit crimes
Genetic Theories – this has not been proven, but are people born criminals?
Political Factors – crimes may be influenced by political decisions (riots)
Self-Interest – leading factor (offences against a person may be committed as revenge).
Crime Prevention: Situational and Social
Situational Crime Prevention – aims to make it more difficult for criminals to carry out crimes and stop a crime before it is committed through Planning and Architectural Design (installing bars or alarm systems in homes) and Focused Approaches (avoiding ‘hotspots’ or poorly lit/monitored alley-ways).
Social Crime Prevention – aims to address underlying social factors that lead to crime including poor home environment, social and economic disadvantage and poor school attendance. Many programs hae been funded such as Youth programs to teach children/adolescents dispute resolutions and social skills.
Criminal Investigation Process – Chapter 2
The responsibility for enforcing laws and ensuring they are adhered to