Criminal Justice Exploratory Essays

Subject: Law
Type: Exploratory Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 853
Topics: Justice, Crime, Criminal Justice, Criminal Psychology, Criminology, Ethics

A crime can be referred to as an act which is forbidden by law and the constitution of a nation. Laws and courts are put in place to ensure that people adhere to regulations and also to promote peaceful coexistence (Presser & Sandberg, 2015). The case given presents Patrice who wanted to kill her mother in law and therefore she acquired a rifle and placed herself in a strategic position so as to shoot her dead. Unfortunately, she missed and shot dead a person who was behind her, and her gun jammed preventing her from shooting again. She fled and after the case was launched her lawyer argued that she could not kill as her rifle was not in a position to shoot. The court was not right according to the law in its move to dismiss her charges.

Three main components make up a criminal act. These include ‘Mens rea’, ‘Actus Reus and ‘causation and occurrence.’ These three elements of criminal activity are extensively used to determine whether a person is guilty or not.’ Mens rea’ specifically refers to the mental status of a suspect at the time the crime is committed. This component seeks to determine whether the defendant had sufficient state of mind to enhance the intent to commit the particular crime. Broadly speaking, ‘mens rea’ is the mental state that prompts a person to commit a crime (Laverick, 2016).  For example, if an accused person used a knife to stab a victim to death, then it is evident that the accused had the specific intent to kill the victim and therefore that amounts to a crime. In the given case, the accused had a gun which she intended to use in killing the victim. She hid in a strategic place and did the actual shooting whereby she missed killing another victim. The fact that the rifle failed in the second time as she tried to shoot her target does not exonerate her, as her action had already portrayed the intention to kill the victim.

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The second component that would be considered in the given case is ‘actus reus’ .This component focuses on the actual act committed. For instance, a person can have the criminal thought or intention but fail to commit the act. ‘Actus reus’ is in most cases combined with  ‘mens rea’ to constitute a crime. For example, the crime involved in theft requires that the suspect takes the physical possession of the object in question besides the intent. In the case, Patrice had an intention to kill her in-laws which prompted her to get the gun and go out to wait and shoot her. However, the ‘actus Reus’ occurred when she fired the gun whereby she missed and shot another person (Presser & Sandberg, 2015). An in-depth argument shows that if she was good at shooting, she could have killed her instantly just as she shot dead the person behind. Besides that, after the failed attempt she tried to shoot again whereby the gun failed. The failure of the gun cannot be considered as an issue that takes away the fact that she shot the gun, but it malfunctioned.

Causation and occurrence are the last factor that will be considered in this case. Notably, this factor is a component of ‘actus reus,’ and it is only applicable where the actions of the defendant result to a crime that brings forth a particular result. For instance, in rape cases, the medical tests conducted on a victim reveals that the accused actually committed the crime. In the given case, the ballistic tests can link the shooting to the gun of the defendant and therefore confirm that she was the one who fired the gun with the intention of killing her in-laws and ended up killing another innocent person. A combination of these three factors will reveal that Patrice was a perpetrator of criminal activity and is guilty of attempted murder.

The case presented is a complete act of crime in that the defendant participated in person, in committing the crime, and her failure to attain her intended results does not make the crime incomplete. The case has got nothing to do with impossibility with regards to facts and legal impossibility. This is because from the information it is evident that the defendant could have committed the crime, and the law can be applied to sentence her using the available information.

Ethics play a basic role in law and administration of justice. It is quite important that practitioners adhere to ethics and serve their core purpose which is to deliver justice in an unbiased way. With regards to criminal justice, ethical behavior is not concerned with who wins the case and who loses, but it focuses on the delivery of the right judgment (Winstone, 2016). Considering the given case, the attorney and the jury seem to be biased and unethical. This is mainly because, despite the obvious factors that reveal that Patrice committed an act of crime, the jury goes forward and dismisses the charges as requested by the attorney. Justice was not delivered to the plaintiff in the case.

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  1. Laverick, W. (2016). Global Injustice and Crime Control. Taylor and Francis.
  2. Presser, L., & Sandberg, S. (2015). Narrative criminology: Understanding stories of crime.
  3. Winstone, J. (2016). Mental health, crime and criminal justice: Responses and reforms.
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