THE CRIMINAL ACTS OF OMISSION Abstract Criminal acts are the first principle of liability of a crime. We punish people for what they do, not for who they are. (Samaha, 2008, p. 85) The reason that an act is the first principle is because it is the easiest to prove. While many people first have thoughts of committing an act it is crazy to think that we could prove this. It’s impossible to prove mental attitude by itself, plus thoughts alone do not hurt anyone. (Samaha, 2008, p. 85) You might have an understanding now of why it is a requirement for a criminal act to be present to punish for the crime.
We have talked about the voluntary act requirement which states that a voluntary act is an act that you willingly perform of your own accord without persuasion. (Diducthat, 2010) While we support the punishment for these criminals who commit crimes that cause harm to others, what about the people who just stand around and do nothing while bad things are happening around them? Discussion Why don’t people feel the need to act in particular situations? When they fail to act they are creating criminal acts in the form of omissions.
The definition of criminal omission takes two different forms: (1) mere failure to act, usually the failure to report something required by law or (2) failure to intervene in order to prevent serious harm. (Samaha, 2008, p. 91) Generally there is no criminal liability for failing to act in a certain situation. (Can a Failure to Act make an Individual Guilty in the eyes of the Law? , 2010) When you carry the legal responsibility to act in a situation you have different situations that bind you to these duties.
These three situations are statutes, contracts, and special relationships. Statutes are the basis for legal duties to report-for example, the duty to file income tax returns, report accidents and childhood abuse, and register firearms. Individuals can also contract to perform duties; for example, law enforcement officers agree to “protect and serve. ” The main special relationships are the parent-child relationship, the doctor-patient relationship, the employer-employee relationship, the carrier-passenger relationship, and in some state the husband-wife relationship. Samaha, 2008, p. 92) The case or instance I chose to talk about is the case where for more than two hours a 15-year-old California girl was allegedly gang raped and beaten outside a high school homecoming dance where as many as 20 people watched or took part. (Chen, 2009) This is a highly publicized case in which “someone has done nothing while bad things are happening around them. ” This is a disturbing situation because the bystanders did not do anything to help this girl, but they took the time to take pictures and even laugh about what was happening to her.
There were five suspects arrested with more arrests expected. Criminology and psychology experts say there could be a variety of reasons why the crime wasn’t reported. They stated that it was possible the bystander effect, which experts say that the larger the number of people involved in a situation, the less will get done. (Chen, 2009) This case took place in California where it is illegal for a crime involving children to go unreported. The Sherrice Iverson Child Victim Protection Act passed in 1999 makes it a misdemeanor to fail to report a crime against a child.
However, the bill only applies to victims 14 or younger. The victim in our case was 15-years-old so it does not apply. (Chen, 2009) Therefore, there were no legal duties for the bystanders to report the crime. There should have been a legal duty or responsibility for the school district to protect this young girl. There were also officers there that were not patrolling the area as they should have been. With 10 people being involved and 10 people standing by there should be some form of punishment given to the bystanders.
Although, it might not be a law right now, perhaps one should be implemented because of this case. If at a minimum those bystanders should have at least got a misdemeanor charge. I think it should be brought before the Supreme Court to see if charges could possibly be imposed on the bystanders. I mean think about it, if anyone of them had reported the incident, perhaps she would not have had to endure over two hours of beating and sexual assault. As a witness to a crime, you have the ability to prevent more harm. All you have to do is talk.
It is unreal that not one person felt the need to help this girl. What about the moral duty that you have to someone? What if it was you or someone you know being attacked, would you feel differently? Wouldn’t you want someone to speak up for you? There are a couple situations that define the legal duties to rescue strangers. For instance, the Good Samaritan doctrine imposes a legal duty to help or call for help for imperiled strangers. (Samaha, 2008) This law was created to protect those who help others for no reason except the fact they care.
In today’s society this law is important because there are so many people looking for a free dollar, they take any situation or injury and look to make money from it. This law prevents this from happening. Almost all states follow the American bystander rule, which states that there is no legal duty to rescue or summon help for someone who’s in danger, even if the bystander risks nothing by helping. (Samaha, 2008, p. 93) The right thing to do will always be the question. We have a moral obligation as human beings to provide help to those being victimized. References
Can a Failure to Act make an Individual Guilty in the eyes of the Law? (2010). Retrieved from In Brief: Free Legal Information: http://www. inbrief. co. uk/failure-to-act-law. htm Chen, S. (2009, 10 30). Gang rape raises questions about bystanders’ role. Retrieved from cnn. com: http://www. cnn. com/2009/CRIME/10/28/california. gang. rape. bystander/index. html Diducthat. (2010). What is voluntary and involuntary acts? Retrieved from Answers. com: http://wiki. answers. com/Q/What_is_voluntary_act_and_involuntary_act Samaha, J. (2008). Criminal Law, Tenth Edition. Belmont: Wadsworth.