1. Consider this situation:
Alf and Bob rented a motel room. The room was rented under Alf’s name, and Alf paid for the first day’s rent; the second day’s rent was paid by Bob, and the third day’s rent was not paid. The motel manager, finding the appearance of his guests suspicious (long hair, colorful clothes, general air of disreputability), informed the police that he suspected them of being drug-users. The police raided the motel room on the third day and discovered Alf (but not Bob) asleep, and found considerable quantities of drugs and drug paraphernalia scattered about the room. They arrested Alf. Alf said that the drugs did not belong to him but to Bob (who was nowhere to be found), and that although he knew that Bob possessed and used marijuana, he himself never did. Alf was prosecuted for illegal possession of drugs (which happens to be a criminal offence).
The question falls into three parts. Answer all of them.
a) If you were prosecuting Alf, what arguments would you use to convince the court that the act-requirement had been satisfied in this case? b) If you were defending Alf, what arguments would you use to convince the court that the act-requirement had not been satisfied in this case? c) If you were the judge, what would your decision be regarding this issue? Give reasons for your answer.
2. Consider this situation:
Charlie is drowning in a swimming-pool. Standing around him, not doing anything to rescue him, are the following persons, all of whom are strong swimmers: (i) Derek, who is the lifeguard on duty, (ii) Edwin, who is Charlie’s twin brother, (iii) Frederick, who is an off-duty policeman, (iv) Gavin, who had stumbled upon Charlie’s untied shoelaces, and, in trying to keep himself from falling, accidentally pushed Charlie into the pool; and, (v) Harvey, a man who had long intended to kill Charlie, who happened to be passing by the pool when he saw Charlie drowning, and stopped to watch.
The question falls into two parts. Answer both of them.
a) Which of these five witnesses to Charlie’s death should be held criminally liable for failing to rescue Charlie and which of them should not? Provide reasons to justify your answer. b) Would it make any difference to your answer if Charlie happened to a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair? If so, why, and if not, why not?
3. Consider this situation:
Irvin and his girlfriend Jennie get drunk in their apartment and begin to quarrel. Jennie threatens to beat Irvin on the head repeatedly with a heavy cast-iron saucepan. Irvin, knowing that Jennie is fully capable of doing this, flees from his apartment and into the street. A policeman finds him running down the street screaming, and takes him into custody. Irvin is prosecuted for being drunk and disorderly in a public place, which happens to be a criminal offence.
The question falls into three parts.
a) If you were prosecuting Irvin, what argument would you use to convince the court that the voluntariness component of the act-requirement had been satisfied in this case? b) If you were defending Irvin, what argument would you use to convince the court that the voluntariness component of the act-requirement had not been satisfied in this case? c) If you were the judge, what would your decision be regarding this issue? Give reasons for your answer.
4. Kelly is a clinically diagnosed alcoholic and becomes pregnant due to a flaw in a contraceptive device. She does not refrain from consuming alcohol during her pregnancy, and her child, Larry, is born with severe mental retardation due to fetal alcohol syndrome. Kelly is prosecuted for having caused grievous bodily harm to Larry.
Assume that mental retardation does in fact constitute grievous bodily harm, and that Larry’s mental retardation was in fact caused by Kelly’s consumption of alcohol during her pregnancy. The defence nevertheless argues, on behalf of Kelly, that (i) alcoholism is not an ‘act’ but a condition, (ii) Kelly’s consumption of alcohol during her pregnancy was not ‘voluntary’ because Kelly was an alcoholic; (iii) pregnancy is not an ‘act’ but a condition, and (iv) Kelly’s pregnancy was not ‘voluntary’ because Kelly’s contraceptive device malfunctioned. Therefore, says the defence, Kelly has not satisfied the act-requirement for a crime in this case.
Courtney from Study Moose