For a successful conviction, the law requires the presence of 2 elements; Mens Rea and Actus Reus. Mens Rea is guilty state of mind the offender when committing any offence.
The offence is not culpable unless the mind is guilty. It requires the offender to have a clear foresight of the consequences of his actions, and desires those consequences to occur. On the other hand, Actus Reus is the actual wrongful act or omission that constitutes the offence. With the absence of either element, the offender would not be successfully charged.
Some would try to avoid the element of Actus Reus by handling this job to a third party. The act of doing so is by itself an offence under the Penal Code. You’ll be guilty of abetment if found doing so, and the definition of this offence can be found under Section 107 of the Penal Code:
“A person abets the doing of a thing who —
- Instigates any person to do that thing;
- Engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or
- Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.”
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A person who commits this crime is an Abettor and the definition is found under Section 108 of the Penal Code:
“A person abets an offence who abets either the commission of an offence, or the commission of an act which would be an offence, if committed by a person capable by law of committing an offence with the same intention or knowledge as that of the abettor.”
Abettor would not be able to escape liability although Actus Reus seems to be absent. An offence of abetment if the act is committed in consequence is as grave as committing the offence. Punishment for abetment is found under Section 110 of the Penal Code:
“Whoever abets the commission of an offence shall, if the person abetted does the act with a different intention or knowledge from that of the abettor, be punished with the punishment provided for the offence which would have been committed if the act had been done with the intention or knowledge of the abettor and with no other.”
The person who committed the offence and abettor would face the same consequences.
Sentencing on Abetment depends on the nature of the abetted offence. Abettor will be punished according to the punishment laid down for the committal of the particular offence.
John offers a handsome sum of reward to James, to kill his wife who cheated on him. James accepted the job and killed John’s wife. John has effectively abetted the offence of Murder defined in Section 300, punishable under the relevant Section 302.
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