Causation (Common Law) Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Causation (Common Law) Deck (20):

to convict defendant of a "result" crime (murder), the prosecution must show defendant acted with necessary mens rea and committed the required acts or acted with necessary attendant circumstances, and also that defendant caused required result (victim's death)



__________ is issue in result crimes



_________ issues arise for most part in criminal homicide cases



Common law causation analysis has 2 parts

(actual cause/cause in fact and proximate cause/legal cause)


But for test– a person’s conduct is ______ cause of prohibited result if result would not have occurred but for actor’s conduct.

Actual Cause


(1) Identify relevant conduct – what are relevant voluntary act(s) committed by defendant? If case based on omission, substitute omission
(2) Question – “but for defendant’s act(s)/omission would social harm (death) have occurred when it did?”

-If yes – if social harm would have occurred when did even if defendant had not acted, defendant is not actual cause, not guilty
-If no – if social harm would not have occurred when it did but for defendant’s acts, defendant is actual cause, then move on to proximate cause

Steps for determining actual cause


person who is actual cause of resulting harm not responsible for harm unless also is _______ (legal) cause of harm

Proximate Cause


_________ cause identifies potential candidates for legal responsibility for result. _________ cause determines who among candidates should be held accountable (lineup)

Actual and Proximate


Was there any actual but for cause of result that came into picture after defendant’s voluntary act? If not, defendant was___________of social harm.

Direct Cause


Intervening cause

Apparent Safety Doctrine

Free, Deliberate, Informed Human Intervention

Intended Consequences Doctrine

De Minimus Cause


Factors of Causation


actual cause of social harm that arises after defendant’s causal contribution to result. Occurs after defendant’s conduct but before result for which defendant is being prosecuted.

Intervening cause


occurs in response to defendant’s earlier conduct

Dependent/responsive cause


force that does not occur in response to initial wrongdoer’s conduct

Independent/coincidental cause


______________ intervening cause does not relieve initial wrongdoer of criminal responsibility unless response was unforeseeable and highly abnormal

Dependent/responsive cause


Defendant not responsible for _________ intervening cause unless occurrence was foreseeable to reasonable person in defendant’s situation.

Independent/coincidental cause


Even though defendant created dangerous situation, not responsible for ultimate result if dangerous situation defendant created was over because victim had reached apparent safety. (Dangerous forces have come to rest.)

Apparent Safety Doctrine


Generally, defendant not proximate cause of result if a free, deliberate, informed act of another person intervenes.
Policy – free will essential in determining responsibility for harm.

Free, Deliberate, Informed Human Intervention


If an intentional wrongdoer gets what she wanted (the result in the manner she wanted it) she should not escape responsibility even if an unforeseeable event intervenes

Intended Consequences Doctrine


Generally, the law will not treat a very minor but for cause of harm as legally responsible for the result when there is a far more substantial cause to whom responsibility can be attached.
Some wrongdoers have too minor a causal role to justify criminal punishment.

De Minimus Cause


An omission will rarely, if ever, supersede an earlier, operative wrongful act