Omission

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There are few 'crimes of omission' in English law. On the whole, failing to prevent harm is not a crime unless there is a legal duty of care. I would not be guilty of any specific offence if I stood by and watched a stranger jump off a cliff, however easy it would be for me to prevent the harm. Cases where an omission may be an offence include:

  • wilful refusal to comply with a statutory obligation. An example might be refusing to supply a breath specimen for an alcohol test when the law requires that one does so;
  • not carrying out a duty which is a contractual obligation;
  • failing to exercise a duty of care (e.g., parents for their children), including cases where duty of care has been assumed (see: Assumed duty of care);
  • where the omission omits to correct a harmful situation caused by the defendent (see: R v miller (1983)).
    UK LAW
    Criminal Law