Class 3 Notes Criminal Law

Factually the chain of causation can go on for a long

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Factually, the chain of causation can go on for a long time, but we want to know LEGALLY when can we break that and say it’s too far? What is the legal test for causation? o Homicide o Criminal negligence causing death Some limitations in Code: Section 228 states that you cannot cause someone’s death by influence on mind alone. This doesn’t apply where one frightens a child to death. 222(6)—if executed by virtue of perjured testimony 222—general provisions for defining homicide
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224—death which might have been prevented 225—death from improper treatment 226—acceleration of death Jordan Case Facts: J stabbed V on May 4th - died May 12th o The cause of death was pneumonia. It overwhelmed the stab wound. o 2 intervening causes: Terramycin given (V intolerant to drug) and treatment re fluid in lungs; stab wound virtually healed when died Issue: did J cause death of V? Court: 2 features wrong in treatment which produced symptoms that ultimately were the direct and immediate cause of death. In this case, the wound was not really a contributing factor of death, because it was virtually healed by the time he died. Acquittal Smith Case Facts: S stabbed V; died 2 hours later; dropped V on way to treatment; no blood transfusion; gave saline solution (wrong) and used artificial respiration (did not know of pierced lung) - with proper treatment, chances of survival were 75% Issue: Did S cause death of V? Defence argued that death was not the sole and natural consequence of wound and did not flow directly from it. There were other important things at work here. Court: test is that if at the time of death, the wound is still an operating and substantial cause, then their death is caused by the wound, even though another operating cause may be present. If the original wound is merely a setting in which another cause operates, then it cannot be said that death results from the wound Is the second cause so overwhelming so as to make the first wound merely part of the history? One question to ask is: Can you show a new cause which disturbs the sequence of events? Court: look to particular facts of each case - Smith convicted (satisfied test) So if I go and shoot you, but you don’t die, then another shoots you in the head and you die, then that chain is broken and the gunshot wound to the head is now what is the substantial and operating cause of death. There can be like, five causes of death and you won’t be held liable if yours is not the trivial one. Canadian Tests Smithers—case of midget hockey player who had been insulted by racist slurs in game. After game, S punched and Kicked V, and V aspirated on own vomit (really rare). o Manslaughter charge o Test: was the kick a contributing cause of death, or was it outside the minimis range (not a trivial cause)?
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  • Winter '13
  • RonSaunders
  • criminal law, Causality

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