Some criminal law theorists argue that all restrictions on personal liberty should comply with Mill’s ‘harm principle’:
The principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilised community against his will is to prevent harm to others.
Although legislatures arguably honour this principle more in the breach than in the observance, it is partially implemented in offence provisions that incorporate one or more harmful (or potentially harmful) results as a physical element. This chapter examines the challenges posed by result elements and the general criminal law’s response to them.
Section 4.2 outlines why results pose difficulties in terms of both interpreting offences and attributing responsibility. The remainder of the chapter outlines the general criminal law’s requirements for results and the significant scenarios where a person will be considered to be not criminally responsible for them.