Samaha Chapter 4 Smith

Samaha Chapter 4 Smith - Criminal Law Criminal Chapter 4...

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Criminal Law Criminal Law Chapter 4 Chapter 4 The General Principles of Criminal Liability: The General Principles of Criminal Liability: Mens Rea, Concurrence and Causation Mens Rea, Concurrence and Causation CRJU E314 Criminal Law CRJU E314 Criminal Law Spring 2011, Spring 2011, Mr. Smith Mr. Smith
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Causation and Criminal Liability Criminal causation, as relates to criminal liability for result crimes , consists of two components: The first is “cause in fact,” sometimes referred to as “actual cause,” an objective determination that the defendant’s conduct caused an event that ended with criminal harm . The second is “legal cause,” sometimes called “proximate cause,” a subjective judgment as to whether the defendant’s conduct should, legally, allow the imposition of criminal responsibility on the defendant. In order to establish criminal responsibility, “cause in fact” and “legal cause” must be concurrent.
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Cause in Fact To reach the determination that the defendant’s conduct was the cause in fact of the criminal harm, courts usually apply what is called the “but for” test . Under this test, a defendant’s conduct is the cause in fact of the criminal harm if the harm would not have occurred “but for” that conduct. D shoots a pistol, striking V and wounding him. “But for D's act, would V have been wounded?” If the answer is “No,” we can conclude that D’s act was the cause in fact of the harm to V.
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Legal Cause In some situations, however, although the defendant’s conduct can be considered “cause in fact,” the defendant may not be held criminally liable because, under the circumstances, the act did not “legally” cause the criminal harm , such as when another “intervening cause” comes into play. D critically injures V by hitting her with a wooden bat. As V is being rolled to an ambulance, she is struck by lightning and killed. V would not have been killed if she had not been injured by D in the first place. D caused V's initial bodily injury, using the “but for” test for cause in fact, however the intervention of a supervening event, the lightning, renders D not the legal cause of V’s death.
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Summary: Causation For a defendant’s conduct to support criminal liability involving a result crime , it must be both the actual cause and the legal cause of the criminal harm that has occurred. A defendant’s conduct that is the cause in fact will support criminal liability if there is no other intervening cause that caused the criminal harm. A defendant’s conduct that is the legal cause of the harm is also the cause in fact and will support criminal liability.
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Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea ( The act does not make one guilty unless the mind is also guilty)
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The Emergence of Mens Rea At common law there was no requirement other than that the prosecution prove the occurrence of the actus reus , the prohibited act. State of mind was not relevant.
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Samaha Chapter 4 Smith - Criminal Law Criminal Chapter 4...

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