Offence Requirements

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



The most basic organising distinction of offence requirements in current law has been the actus reus-mens rea distinction. This chapter specifically starts by exploring the weaknesses of and the potential for confusion in the use of that distinction. It also recommends that use of the distinction be abandoned. It then offers as a replacement an alternative three-part conceptualisation of offence requirements, distinguishing what it calls objective, culpability, and act — omission requirements. Each of these three groups of doctrines is then examined. The current conceptualisation of each is summarised and refinements of it suggested. The actus reus-mens rea distinction reflects no discernible underlying concept; neither ‘actus reus’ requirements nor ‘mens rea’ requirements share a common characteristic or function. Moreover, it argues that current conceptualisation is flawed in two respects.


actus reus-mens rea distinction, offence requirements, current law, conceptualisation

Publication Title

Structure and Function in Criminal Law