Criminally Liable For Omission Essay

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A person is said to be criminally liable if he commits an act which the law renders illegal. Under English criminal law a person is generally not liable for an omission. The crime must be capable of being committed by omission. For example if A was drowning and B sees A drowning, there is no responsibility on B’s part to help A. Even if A ends up dying B is not liable for A’s death. He may only merely have a moral obligation to help but he cannot be charged with murder or battery. Basically, B cannot be prosecuted for his failure to act. Although this is the general principle, it is subject to exceptions. Where a person is under a duty to act and he fails to do so he is deemed to be criminally liable for the omission. The most important…show more content…
It is an offence if a motorist fails without reasonable excuse to provide a breath specimen to a police officer when required to do so ( S.6 Road Traffic Act 1998) . Similarly, it is also an offence if a person fails to report a road traffic accident to the police within 24 hours. ( S.170 (4) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. It is also an offence if a person who is legally responsible to maintain a child by providing the child with food, clothing, medical aid and shelter fails to do so. ( S. 1 (2) (a) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933). Yet another exception to the general rule is failing to report terrorist activity (Terrorism Act 2000). Liability for an omission can arise where a person is found to owe a duty to act through public office. A police officer is under a duty to assist members of the public in danger. This can be seen in the leading case R v Dytham. A police officer who was on duty near a nightclub failed to come to the assistance of a man who was being assaulted. The victim was eventually kicked to death. The defendant was convicted of the common law offence of misconduct while acting as an officer of

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