Crimes are offences against the State or public wrongs.
What is immoral may not necessarily be criminal. The criminal law may seek to preserve public morality.
Crimes under customary law are not necessary crimes under criminal law. A custom may constitute a crime.
Criminal law is jurisdictional. Circumstances under which a Ghanaian court of competent jurisdiction can entertain a criminal matter.
No crime is committed, and no punishment can be imposed without the act having been prohibited and the punishment having been prescribed by a law enacted before the act was committed. When a law is repealed before a conviction, the case shall be dismissed.
A person accused of committing a crime is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of competent jurisdiction. Such a person should not face punishment until his guilt is established.
A person cannot be punished twice for the same offence, but may be punished twice for the same act (when the act constitutes different offences).
Circumstances where failing to act will constitute a crime.
Before an accused can be held accountable for an offence, it must be established that he caused or is responsible for the actus reus of the offence. The two tests for causation. de minimis non curat lex
When the chain of causation can and cannot be broken.
Mens rea is Latin for “guilty mind” and refers to a state of mind the law requires the accused to possess as an element of a particular crime, or the intent of the accused to commit a crime. It also distinguishes certain offences like murder and manslaughter simpliciter.
A person who does an act voluntarily, believing that it will probably cause or contribute to cause an event, intends to cause that event , although that person does not do the act for the purpose of causing or of contributing to cause the event.
A person who does an act of a kind or in a manner that, if reasonable caution and observation had been used, it would appear to that person that the act would probably cause or contribute to cause an event or that there would be great risk of the act causing or contributing to cause an event, intends, for the purposes of this section, to cause that event until it is shown that that person believed that the act would probably not cause or contribute to cause the event, or that there was not an intention to cause or contribute to it. Subjective versus Objective test for recklessness.
A person who, intending to cause an event with respect to one or any of several persons or things, or to an indeterminate person or thing as may happen to be affected by the event, causes the event with respect to that person or thing, and is liable in the same manner as if the intention has been to cause the event with respect to that person or thing.
If a person intends to cause harm to X, but instead causes harm to Y, it is as though he intended to cause harm to Y all along.
Intent may be determined by an examination of circumstantial factors such as weapon used, nature of injury.