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R.v.Tolson
[18861890]AllERRep26[188690]AllERRep26
11May1889

HEADNOTE:
Itisaprincipleofthecriminallawthat,ordinarilyspeaking,acrimeisnot
committedifthemindofthepersondoingtheallegedlycriminalactis
innocent.Generally,proofofmensreaisanecessaryingredientofan
offence.Theguiltyintentisnotnecessarilythatofintendingtheveryact
orthingdoneandprohibitedbycommonorstatutelaw,butitmustat
leastbetheintentiontodosomethingwrong.Astatutemay,however,
besoframedastomakeanactcriminalwhethertherehasbeenan
intentiontobreakthelaworotherwisedowrongornot.WhetheranAct
istobeconstruedinthissenseorwiththequalificationordinarily
importedintotheconstructionofcriminalstatutes,namely,thatthere
mustbeaguiltymind,mustdependonthesubjectmatteroftheActand
thecircumstancesofthecasewhichmaymaketheoneconstructionor
theotherreasonableorunreasonable.Itiswithinthecompetenceofthe
legislaturetoenactthatamanshallbebrandedasafelonandpunished
fordoinganactwhichhehonestlyandreasonablybelievestobelawful
andright,butsucharesultseemssorevoltingtothemoralsensethat
theclearestevidenceisrequiredthatsuchisthemeaningoftheAct.At
commonlawanhonestandreasonablebeliefintheexistenceof
circumstanceswhich,iftrue,wouldmakeanactforwhichapersonis
indictedaninnocentact,orproofthatsuchapersonhadmadean
honestandreasonablemistake,hasalwaysbeenheldtobeagood
defencetoachargeinvolvingtheexistenceofmanerea,andthe
principleappliesequallyinthecaseofstatutoryoffencesunlessitis
excludedexpresslyorbynecessaryimplication.
Abonafidebelief,heldonreasonablegrounds,inthedeathofoneparty
toamarriageisadefensetoachargeofbigamyagainsttheotherparty
whohasmarriedagain,whetherornotthesecondmarriagehastaken
placewithinthesevenyearsprescribedbytheprovisotos57ofthe
OffencesAgainstthePersonAct,1861.Thatprovisoisintended
absolutelytoexemptfromtheoperationofthesection(whichprovides
that"whosoever,beingmarried,shallmarryanyotherpersonduringthe
lifeoftheformerhusbandorwife...shallbeguiltyoffelony")anyperson
whodoesnothaveanyactualknowledgeofhisorherformerwifeor
husbandbeingalivewithinsevenyearsbeforethesecondmarriage,
andnottodepriveapersonwhoisindictedforbigamyofanydefense
whichwouldhavebeenopentohimorheriftheprovisohadneverbeen
introducedatall.
CaseStatedbySTEPHENJ,uponthetrialofanindictmentforbigamy,
unders57oftheOffencesAgainstthePersonAct,1861.
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On6July1888,attheassizesatCarlisle,MarthaAnnTolsonwas
convictedbeforethelearnedjudgeofbigamy.On11September1880,
theaccusedwasmarriedtooneTolson.On13Dec1881,hedeserted
her.Sheandherfathermadeinquiriesabouthim,andlearnedfromhis
elderbrother,andfromgeneralreport,thathehadbeenlostonavessel
boundforAmerica,whichwentdownwithallhandsonboard.On10
Jan1887,theaccused,supposingherselftobeawidow,wentthrough
theceremonyofmarriagewithanotherman.Thecircumstanceswere
wellknowntothesecondhusband,andtheceremonywasinnoway
concealed.InDecember1887,TolsonreturnedfromAmerica.
STEPHENJdirectedthejurythatabeliefingoodfaithandon
reasonablegroundsthatbarhusbandwasdeadwouldnotbeadefence
toachargeofbigamy.Hestatedthat,insoholding,hisobjectwas,if
possible,toobtainthedecisionoftheCourtforCrownCasesReserved
onthepoint,astherewereconflictingnisipriusdecisions.Thejury
convictedtheprisoner,stating,however,inanswertoquestionsbythe
judge,thattheythoughtthatsheingoodfaith,andonreasonable
grounds,believedherhusbandtobedeadatthetimeofhersecond
marriage.Thejudgesentencedhertooneday'simprisonment.The
questionforthecourtwaswhetherthedirectionofthelearnedjudge
wasright.
Bys57oftheOffencesAgainstthePersonAct,1861:
"Whosoever,beingmarried,shallmarryanyotherperson
duringthelifeoftheformerhusbandorwife...shallbe
guiltyoffelony....Providedthatnothinginthissection
containedshallextendtoany...personmarryingasecond
timewhosehusbandorwifeshallhavebeencontinually
absentfromsuchpersonfortheapaceofsevenyearsthen
lastpast,andshallnothavebeenknownbysuchpersonto
belivingwithinthattime...

STEPHENJ:
Forthepurposeofsettlingaquestionwhichhadbeendebatedfora
considerabletime,andonwhichIthoughtthedecisionswereconflicting,
andnotastheexpressionofmyownopinion,Idirectedthejuryatthe
trialoftheaccusedwomanthatabeliefingoodfaithandonreasonable
groundsinthedeathofonepartytoamarriagewasnotadefencetothe
chargeofbigamyagainsttheotherwhomarriedagainwithintheseven
years.Ipassedanominalsentenceontheaccused,andIstated,forthe
decisionofthiscourt,acasewhichreservedthequestionwhethermy
decisionwasrightorwrong.Iamofopinionthattheconvictionshould
bequashed,asthedirectionIgavewaswrong,andthatIoughttohave
toldthejurythatthedefenceraisedfortheprisonerwasvalid.
Myviewofthesubjectisbaseduponaparticularapplicationofthe
doctrineusually,thoughIthinknothappily,describedbythephrasenon
estreus,nisimanesitrea.Thoughthisphraseisincommonuse,Ithink
itmostunfortunate,andnotonlylikelytomislead,butactually
misleading,onthefollowinggrounds.Itnaturallysuggeststhat,apart
fromallparticulardefinitionsofcrimes,suchathingexistsasamane
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rea,or"guiltymind,"whichisalwaysexpresslyorbyimplicationinvolved
ineverydefinition.Thisisobviouslynotthecase,forthemental
elementsofdifferentcrimesdifferwidely.Mensranmeansinthecase
ofmurder,maliceaforethoughtinthecaseoftheft,anintentiontosteel
inthecaseofrape,anintentiontohaveforcibleconnectionwitha
woman,withoutherconsentandinthecaseofreceivingstolengoods,
knowledgethatthegoodswerestolen.Insomecasesitdenotesmere
inattention.Forinstance,inthecaseofmanslaughterbynegligenceit
maymeanforgettingtonoticeasignal.Itappearsconfusingtocallso
manydissimilarstatesofmindbyonename.Itseemscontradictory
indeedtodescribeamereabsenceofmindasamensreaorguilty
mind.Theexpressionagainislikelytoandoftendoesmislead.Toan
unlegalminditsuggeststhatbythelawofEnglandnoactisacrime
whichisdonefromlaudablemotives,inotherwords,thatimmoralityis
essentialtocrime.Itwill,Ithink,befoundthatmuchofthediscussionof
thelawoflibelinRvShipley(19)proceedsuponamoreorlessdistinct
belieftothiseffect.Itisatopicfrequentlyinsisteduponinreferenceto
politicaloffences,anditwasurgedinarecentnotoriouscaseof
abduction,inwhichitwascontendedthatmotivessaidtobelaudable
wereanexcusefortheabductionofachildfromitsparents.
LikemostlegalLatinmaxims,themaximonmensreaappearstometo
betooshortandantitheticaltobeofmuchpracticalvalue.Itis,indeed,
morelikethetitleofatreatisethanapracticalrule.Ihavetriedto
ascertainitsorigin,buthavenotsucceededindoingso.Itisnotoneof
theregulaejurisintheDIGEST.TheearliestcaseofitsusewhichI
havefoundisintheLEGESHENRICIPRIMI,Vs28,inwhichitissaid:
"Siquispercoaccionemabjurarecogaturquodpermultos
annosquietetenueritnoninjurantesetcogenteperjurium
erit.Reumnonfacitnisimensrea."
InBROOM'SMAXIMStheearliestauthoritycitedforitsuseisthe
THIRDINSTITUTE,chi,fo10.Inthisplaceitiscontainedinthe
marginalnote,whichsaysthatwhenitwasfoundthatsomeofSirJohn
Olcastle'sadherentstookpartinaninsurrection"protimoremortiset
quodrecesseruntquamcitopotuerunt"thejudgesheldthatthiswasto
beadjudgednotreasonbecauseitwasforfearofdeath.COKEadds:
"Etactusnonfacitreum,nisimenssitrea."ThisisonlyCOKE'Sown
remark,andnotpartofthejudgment.COKE'SscrapsofLatininthis,
andthefollowingchaptersaresometimescontradictory.
Notwithstandingthepassagejustquoted,hesaysinthemarginofhis
remarksonopinionsdeliveredinparliamentbyTHYRING,andothersin
the21stR2:"Meliusestomniamalapatriquammaloconsentire"(223)
whichwouldshowthatSirJohnOldcastle'sassociateshadamensrea,
orguiltymind,thoughtheywerethreatenedwithdeath,andthus
contradictsthepassagefirstquoted.Itissingularthatineachofthese
instancesthemaximshouldbeusedinconnectionwiththelawrelating
tocoercion.
Theprincipleinvolvedappearstome,whenfullyconsidered,toamount
tonomorethanthis.Thefulldefinitionofeverycrimecontainsexpressly
orbyimplicationapropositionastoastateofmind.Therefore,ifthe
mentalelementofanyconductallegedtobeacrimeisprovedtohave
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beenabsentinanygivencase,thecrimesodefinedisnotcommitted
or,again,ifacrimeisfullydefined,nothingamountstothatcrimewhich
doesnotsatisfythatdefinition.Crimesareinthepresentdaymuch
moreaccuratelydefinedbystatuteorotherwisethantheyformerlywere.
Thementalelementofmostcrimesismarkedbyoneofthewords
"maliciously","fraudulently","negligently",or"knowingly"butitisthe
generalImight,Ithink,saytheinvariablepracticeofthelegislatureto
leaveunexpressedsomeofthementalelementsofcrime.Inallcases
whatever,competentage,sanity,andsomedegreeoffreedomfrom
somekindsofcoercionareassumedtobeessentialtocriminality,butI
donotbelievetheyareeverintroducedintoanystatutebywhichany
particularcrimeisdefined.Themeaningofthewords"malice",
"negligence",and"fraud"inrelationtoparticularcrimeshasbeen
ascertainedbynumerouscases.Malicemeansonethinginrelationto
murderanotherinrelationtotheMaliciousMischiefAct[?Malicious
DamageAct1861],andathirdinrelationtolibel,andsooffraudand
negligence.
Withregardtoknowledgeoffact,thelaw,perhaps,isnotquitesoclear,
butitmay,Ithink,bemaintainedthatineverycaseknowledgeoffacts
istosomeextentanelementofcriminalityasmuchascompetentage
andsanity.Tomakeanextremeillustration,cananyonedoubtthata
manwho,thoughhemightbeperfectlysane,committedwhatwould
otherwisebeacrimeinastateofsomnambulism,wouldbeentitledto
beacquitted?Andwhyisthis?Simplybecausehewouldnotknowwhat
hewasdoing.Amultitudeofillustrationsofthesamesortmightbe
given.Iwillmentiononeortwoglaringones.Levett'sCase(20)decides
thatamanwhomakingathrustwithaswordataplacewhere,upon
reasonablegrounds,hesupposesaburglartobe,killedapersonwho
wasnotaburglarwasheldnottobeafelonthoughhemightbe(itwas
notdecidedthathewas)guiltyofkillingperinfortunium,orpossibly,se
defendendo,whichtheninvolvedcertainforfeiture.Inotherwords,he
wasinthesamesituationasfarasregardedthehomicideasifhehad
killedaburglar.InthedecisionofthejudgesinM'Naghten'sCase(21)it
isstatedthatifunderaninsanedelusiononemankillsanotherandif
thedelusionwassuchthatitwould,iftrue,justifyorexcusethekilling,
thehomicidewouldbejustifiedorexcused.Thiscouldhardlybeifthe
samewerenotlawastoasamemistake.Abonafideclaimofright
excuseslarceny,andmanyoftheoffencesagainsttheMalicious
MischiefAct[?MaliciousDamageAct,1861].Apart,indeedfromthe
presentcase,Ithinkitmaybelaiddownasageneralrulethatan
allegedoffenderisdeemedtohaveactedunderthatstateoffactswhich
heingoodfaithandonreasonablegroundsbelievedtoexistwhenhe
didtheactallegedtobeanoffence.Iamunabletosuggestanyreal
exceptiontothisrule,norhasoneeverbeensuggestedtome.
Averylearnedpersonsuggestedtomethefollowingcase.Aconstable,
reasonablybelievingamantohavecommittedmurder,isjustifiedin
killinghimtopreventhisescape,butifhehadnotbeenaconstablehe
wouldnothavebeensojustified,butwouldhavebeenguiltyof
manslaughter[see10HALSBURY'SLAWS(3rdEdn)709].Thisisquite
true,butthemistakeinthesecondcasewouldbenotonlyamistakeof
fact,butamistakeoflawonthepartofthehomicideinsupposingthat
he,aprivateperson,wasjustifiedinusingasmuchviolenceasapublic
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officer,whosedutyistoarrest,ifpossible,apersonreasonably
suspectedofmurder.Thesupposedhomicidewouldbeinthesame
positionasifhismistakeoffacthadbeentruethatis,hewouldbe
guilty,notofmurder,butofmanslaughter.Ithink,therefore,thatthe
presentcasefallsunderthegeneralruleastomistakesoffact,andthat
theconvictionoughttobequashed.
Iwillnowproceedtodealwiththeargumentswhicharesupposedto
leadtotheoppositeresult.Itissaid,first,thatthewordsoftheOffences
AgainstthePersonAct,1861,s57,areabsolute,andthatthe
exceptionswhichthatsectioncontainsaretheonlyoneswhichare
intendedtobeadmitted,andthisitissaidisconfirmedbytheexpress
provisointhesectionanindicationwhichisthoughttonegativeany
tacitexception.ItisalsosupposedthatRvPrince(15)decidedons55,
confirmsthisview.IwillbeginbysayinghowfarIagreewiththese
views.First,Iagreethatthecaseturnsexclusivelyuponthe
constructionofs57oftheActof1861.Muchwassaidtousinargument
ontheoldstatute,theBigamyAct1603.Icannotseewhatthishasto
dowiththematter.Ofcourse,itwouldbecompetenttothelegislatureto
defineacrimeinsuchawayastomaketheexistenceofmystateof
mindimmaterial.Thequestionissolelywhetherithasactuallydoneso
inthiscase.InthefirstplaceIwillobserveupontheabsolutecharacter
ofthesection.Itappearstometoresemblemostoftheenactments
containedintheconsolidationActsof1861,inpassingoverthegeneral
mentalelementsofcrimewhicharepresupposedineverycase.Age,
sanity,andmoreorlessfreedomfromcompulsion,arealways
presumed,andIthinkitwouldbeimpossibletoquotemystatutewhich
inanycasespecifiestheseelementsofcriminalityinthedefinitionof
anycrime.Itwillbefoundthateitherbyusingthewordswilfullyand
maliciously,orbyspecifyingsomespecialintentasanelementof
particularcrimes,knowledgeoffactisimplicitlymadepartofthe
statutorydefinitionofmostmoderndefinitionsofcrimes,butthereare
somecasesinwhichthiscannotbesaid.Suchares55,onwhichRv
Prince(15)wasdecided,s56,whichpunishesthestealingof"anychild
undertheageoffourteenyears",s49,astoprocuringthedefilementof
any"womanorgirlundertheageoftwentyone",ineachofwhichthe
samequestionmightariseasinRvPrince(15).TotheseImayadd
someoftheprovisionsoftheCriminalLawAmendmentAct1885
[repealedbySexualOffencesAct1956].Reasonablebeliefthatagirlis
sixteenorupwardsisadefencetothechargeofanoffenceunderss5,
6,and7,butthisisnotprovidedforastoanoffenceagainsts4,which
ismeanttoprotectgirlsunderthirteen.
ItseemstomethatastotheconstructionofallthesesectionsRv
Prince(15)isadirectauthority.Itwasthecaseofamanwhoabducted
agirlundersixteen,believing,ongoodgrounds,thatshewasabove
thatage.BRETTJwasagainsttheconviction.Hisjudgmentestablishes
atmuchlength,and,asitappearstome,unanswerably,theprinciple
aboveexplained,whichhestatesasfollows(LR2CCRatp170):
"Thatamistakeoffootsonreasonablegrounds,totheextent
that,ifthefactswereasbelieved,theactsoftheprisoner
wouldmakehimguiltyofnooffenceatall,isanexcuse,and
thatsuchanexcuseisimpliedineverycriminalchargeand
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everycriminalenactmentinEngland."
LORDBLACKBURN,withwhomnineotherjudgesagreed,andLORD
BRAMWELL,withwhomsevenothersagreed,donotappeartometo
havedissentedfromthisprinciple,speakinggenerallybuttheyheldthat
itdidnotapplyfullytoeachpartofeverysectiontowhichIhave
referred.Someoftheprohibitedactstheythoughtthelegislature
intendedtobedoneattheperilofthepersonwhodidthem,butnotAll.
ThejudgmentdeliveredbyLORDBLACKBURNproceedsuponthe
principlethattheintentionofthelegislatureins55was"topunishthe
abductionunlessthegirlwasofsuchanageastomakeherconsentan
excuse".LORDBRAMWELL'Sjudgmentproceedsuponthisprinciple
(ibidatp175):
"Thelegislaturehasenactedthatifanyonedoesthiswrong
act,bedoesitattheriskofherturningouttobeunder
sixteen.Thisopiniongivesfullscopetothedoctrineofmens
rea.Ifthetakerbelievedhehadherfather'sconsent,though
wrongly,hewouldhavenomensreasoifhedidnotknow
shewasinanyone'spossessionnorinthecareorchargeof
anyone.Inthosecaseshewouldnotknowhewasdoingthe
actforbiddenbythestatute."
Allthejudges,therefore,inRvPrince(15)agreedonthegeneral
principle,thoughtheyall,exceptBRETTJ,consideredthat,theobjectof
thelegislaturebeingtopreventascandalousandwickedinvasionof
parentalrights(whetheritwastoberegardedasillegalapartfromthe
statuteornot)itwastobesupposedthattheyintendedthatthe
wrongdoershouldactathisperil.
Asanotherillustrationofthesameprinciple,ImayrefertoRvBishop
(6).Thedefendantinthatcasewastriedbeforemeforreceivingmore
thantwolunaticsintoahousenotdulylicensed,uponanindictmenton
the[repealedLunacyAct1845,s44.Itwasprovedthatthedefendant
didreceivemorethantwopersons,whomthejuryfoundtobelunatics,
intoherhouse,believinghonestly,andonreasonablegrounds,thatthey
werenotlunatics.Iheldthatthiswasimmaterial,havingregardtothe
scopeoftheAct,andtheobjectforwhichitwasapparentlypassed,and
thiscourtupheldthatruling.Theapplicationofthistothepresentcase
appearstometobeasfollows.Thegeneralprincipleisclearlyinfavour
oftheprisoner,buthowdoestheintentionofthelegislatureappearto
havebeenagainsther?ItcouldnotbetheobjectofParliamenttotreat
themarriageofwidowsasanacttobe,ifpossible,preventedas
presumablyimmoral.Theconductofthewomanconvictedwasnotin
thesmallestdegreeimmoral,itwasperfectlynaturalandlegitimate.
Assumingthefacttobeasshesupposed,theinflictionofmorethana
nominalpunishmentonherwouldhavebeenascandal.Why,then,
shouldthelegislaturebeheldtohavewishedtosubjectherto
punishmentatall?Ifsuchapunishmentislegal,thefollowingamong
manyothercasesmightoccur:Anumberofmeninaminearekilled,
andtheirbodiesaredisfiguredandmutilated,byanexplosiononeof
thesurvivorssecretlyabsconds,anditissupposedthatoneofthe
disfiguredbodiesishis.Hiswifeseeshissupposedremainsburiedshe
marriesagain.Icannotbelievethatitcanhavebeentheintentionofthe
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legislaturetomakesuchawomanacriminalthecontractingofan
invalidmarriageisquitemisfortuneenough.Itappearstomethatevery
argumentwhichshowed,intheopinionofthejudgesinRvPrince(15)
thatthelegislaturemeantseducersandabductorstoactattheirperil,
showsthatthelegislaturedidnotmeantohamperwhatisnotonly
intended,butnaturallyandreasonablysupposedbytheparties,tobea
validandhonourablemarriage,withaliabilitytosevenyears'penal
servitude.
Itisarguedthattheproviso,thataremarriageaftersevenyears'
separationshallnotbepunishable,operatesasatacitexclusionofall
otherexceptionstothepenalpartofthesection.Itappearstomethatit
onlysuppliesaruleofevidencewhichisusefulinmanycases,inthe
absenceofexplicitproofofdeath.Butitseemstometoshow,notthat
beliefinthedeathofonemarriedpersonexcusesthemarriageofthe
otheronlyaftersevenyears'separation,butthatmereseparationfor
thatperiodhastheeffectwhichreasonablebeliefofdeath,causedby
otherevidence,wouldhaveatanytime.Itwould,tomymind,be
monstroustosaythatsevenyears'separationshouldhaveagreater
effectinexcusingabigamousmarriagethanpositiveevidenceofdeath,
sufficientforthe
purposeofrecoveringonapolicyofassuranceorobtainingprobateofa
will,wouldhave,asinthecaseIhaveput,orinotherswhichmightbe
evenstronger.
Itremainsonlytoconsidercasesuponthispointdecidedbysingle
judges.AsfarasIknowtherearereportedthefollowingcases:Rv
Turner(12)(1862).InthiscaseMARTINBisreportedtohavesaid(9
CoxCCatp145):
"Inthiscasesevenyearshadnotelapsed,andbeyondthe
prisoner'sownstatementtherewasthemerebeliefofone
witness.Stillthejuryaretosayifuponsuchtestimonyshe
hadanhonestbeliefthatherfirsthusbandwasdead."
InRvHorton(13)(1871)CLEASBYBdirectedthejurythatifthe
prisonerreasonablybelievedhiswifetobedeadhewasentitledtobe
acquitted.Hewasconvicted.InRvGibbons(14)(1872)BRETTJafter
consultingWILLESJsaid(12CoxCCatp238):"Bonafidebeliefasto
thehusband'sdeathwasnodefenceunlessthesevenyearshad
elapsed",andherefusedtostateacase,adecisionwhichIcannot
reconcilewithhisjudgmentthreeyearsafterwardsinRvPrince(15).In
RvMoore(17)(1877)DENMANLJafterconsultingAMPHLETTLJheld
thatabonafideandreasonablebeliefinahusband'sdeathexcuseda
womanchargedwithbigamy.InRvBennett(16)(1877)LORD
BRAMWELL,agreedwiththedecisioninRvGibbons(14).Theresultis
thatthedecisionsinRvGibbons(14)andRvBennett(16)conflictwith
thoseofRvTurner(12)RvHorton(13)andRvMoore(17).Ithink,
therefore,thatthesefivedecisionsthrowlittlelightonthesubject.The
conflictbetweenthemwasinfactthereasonwhyIreservedthecase.
GRANTHAM,J,authorisesmetosaythatheconcursinthis
judgment....

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