Molly had to admit that her first class had taken off relatively well. There were no unexpected twists or turns and with the exception of five students, whose faces were brimming with eagerness to acquire more knowledge, there was nothing to stop her from conducting a smooth session at the end of which she was certain that her students had acquired, at least, a basic understanding of the mental component in a criminal act.
Her most promising student was a bright and cheery lass; who was a member of the local constabulary, Sally Rabbit. She was hoping to be promoted to the rank of inspector once she had completed her degree.
The others were Otto Otter, who appeared to be somewhat of a career student and who was in the process of becoming an academician of sorts, Gary Gopher, a somewhat excitable lad who was always smiling and nodding his head to everything Molly said, Olly Owl, a serious bespectacled nocturnal bird who was now on its second degree and Wally Weasel a shifty eyed lad who’d just moved to Hicksville from Weasel town.
Wally looked more like a criminal than a budding criminologist but that might prove to be an advantage and he could turn out to be an asset during undercover sting operations and might someday like Sally Rabbit become a valuable member of the Hicksville Metropolitan Police.
Three days later on a Thursday morning, Molly was ready for her second class. She did a quick recap just to make sure that her students had understood what they’d learnt in their previous lesson and she continued with her lectures.
“It is not a crime to think about committing a crime and as long as no action is taken in furtherance of the crime or offence than the law has not been broken” she said.
“A crime is only committed when the offender undertakes some sort of physical act to put his thoughts into motion”. She looked around and her students seemed to have understood what she’d said clearly enough.
She paused before she continued. “Let me give you a simple example of something most of us have contemplated doing at some time or other – sending hate mail”.
She saw Wally’s eyes light up ever so slightly at the mention of hate mail and she was certain that he’d sent some out at some point in time.
“Thinking about writing hate mail itself is not a crime but it becomes a crime if the offender actually writes a letter and sends it out to the victim”. She paused and lifted her head to take a good look around to make sure that what she’d said had registered and she looked up just in time to hear Wally Weasel murmur. “Oh look what’s the worst that could happen by sending someone a bunch of nasty stuff in a letter” he said.
“Well, in most instances, with the exception of causing someone a bit of distress nothing would happen but let me add a little twist to the scenario”.
“What if the contents of the letter were so nasty and the person that it was sent to was of such timid disposition that the moment he or she read the contents of the letter, he or she instantly suffered a panic or anxiety attack and needed to be warded?”
“As a general rule, you take you victim as you find them, and whether the offender is criminally liable or otherwise, he or she is morally liable simply because they had no business sending nasty letters in the first place”.
“Legal liabilities are often an extension of moral liabilities, for example it is morally wrong to steal and the morally wrong act of stealing is codified and becomes theft. You can also look at it in another way, if you don’t breach any moral covenants chances are you haven’t broken the law”.
“The above rule of taking your victim as you find them, by the way, is called the eggshell skull rule or the thin skull rule and it generally means that the offender takes his victim as he or she finds them. For example if a mistimed punch results in a hemorrhage and causes the victim to die than the offender is guilty of causing the death of another”.
She narrowed her eyes and she looked keenly at Wally before she continued because she was certain that he’d thrown a punch or two in is lifetime. “They next time you want to throw a punch think twice before doing it or you could land yourself in serious trouble”.
Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward