Criminal law : the basics by Jonathan Herring

By Jonathan Herring

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Notice this does not mean that the jury must have no doubts at all. After all, if the defendant claims that the crime was committed by a little green man from Mars, a jury may feel one cannot be 100 per cent sure that is untrue. But we can be as sure as we can be about things that it is not. What the principle does mean is that even if the jury think it more likely than not that the defendant committed the crime, they should not convict if they still have some genuine doubts over his or her guilt.

The jury were entitled to find that his breach of duty towards his passengers was so gross as to justify a criminal conviction. CAUSING OR ALLOWING THE DEATH OF A CHILD OR VULNERABLE ADULT As we saw in Chapter 1, generally a person is not liable for failing to rescue a person from danger, even the danger of death. However, Parliament has created a special offence dealing with those who do 51 52 HOMICIDE not protect children or vulnerable adults from death. It is found in the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, Section 5.

The European Court supported the House of Lords, arguing that the law had to adapt to changes in society and the essence of the offence of rape had not been altered by their decision. Sometimes reference is made to the ‘thin ice’ principle, which argues that if a defendant is engaging in behaviour which is of dubious legality he can hardly complain if the courts decide that the behaviour is indeed illegal. Referring back to the chewing gum example, you could not have known that the law would render chewing gum illegal, but the husband in the rape case must have known that what he was doing could well be regarded as illegal.

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