Criminal liability and legal causation

By July 19, 2017 Law

James died following Rosie’s onslaught giving rise to possible liability for slaying. Theactus reusof slaying is improper violent death of a sensible individual within the King’s peace. [ 1 ] This necessitates a causal link between Rosie’s onslaught and James’ decease. Factual causing requires that decease would non hold occurred ‘but for’ the defendant’s actions. [ 2 ] This is satisfied as Rosie’s onslaught set in gesture a concatenation of events that resulted in James’ decease. However, factual causing merely acts as a preliminary filter to extinguish unconnected events ; theactus reusof slaying requires that legal causing is besides established.

Legal causing isolates the most blameworthy factual cause as the footing for condemnable liability. The fact that Rosie’s onslaught was non the most immediate cause of decease is immaterial ; followingPagett, the defendant’s act need non be the sole or even the chief cause of decease provided it isacause. [ 3 ] Rosie may reason that the inadvertent disjunction of James’ life-support system is a ‘new and overwhelming’ cause of decease that renders her part insignificant, [ 4 ] peculiarly as there is grounds that James would hold recovered from her onslaught. The prosecution may dispute this by claiming that surcease of life-support was characterised as an skip inBland[ 5 ] and merely a positive act can interrupt the concatenation of causing. However,Blandcan be distinguished as the inadvertent remotion of life-support by an unauthorized and unqualified individual is non correspondent to a medically-sanctioned surcease of unreal support therefore Rosie will set up that the cleaner’s carelessness was a positive act therefore could potentially interrupt the concatenation of causing.

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Irrespective of this, legal causing will be established as it is a policy-driven country that attributes condemnable duty in line with culpability. The defendant’s error rendered the victim vulnerable to lacks in intervention therefore mistakes should non shrive the suspect of liability [ 6 ] unless they render the defendant’s part entirely undistinguished [ 7 ] and, without Rosie’s onslaught James would non hold been on life-support and vulnerable to its expiration. This is a peculiarly pressure statement given that even consider surcease of life-support will non interrupt the concatenation of causing. [ 8 ] As such, Rosie’s onslaught remains the legal cause of decease and theactus reusof slaying is established notwithstanding the inadvertent disjunction of life-support.

Thework forces reaof slaying is malice aforethought, defined as purpose to kill or do dangerous bodily injury. [ 9 ] Rosie’s onslaught on James was non done with the express intent of doing decease [ 10 ] therefore direct purpose to kill is non established. If James’ decease was a virtually certain effect of Rosie’s onslaught and she realised this was the instance so oblique purpose will be established. [ 11 ] However, Rosie may reason that decease was non a virtually certain effect of being struck about the caput with a vase as James’ decease was non the direct consequence of this but occurred because of ulterior events. If this is successful, the prosecution will hold to establish liability on implied maliciousness ( purpose to do dangerous bodily injury ) . Rosie struck a deliberate blow with a lamp, a difficult and heavy object, to James’ caput, a vulnerable portion of the organic structure. As such, the purpose to do dangerous bodily injury ( defined as ‘serious harm’ ) [ 12 ] is established and this satisfies thework forces reafor slaying even though the suspect sought to do hurt non decease. As theactus reusandwork forces reafor slaying are established, Rosie will be apt unless she can trust upon a defense mechanism to cut down her liability to slay or obtain an straight-out acquittal.

The Homicide Act 1957 contains two partial defense mechanisms that could cut down Rosie’s liability to voluntary manslaughter: lessened duty [ 13 ] and aggravation. [ 14 ]

Section 2 provides that the defense mechanism is available to suspects who are enduring from an abnormalcy of head originating from specified causes that well impairs their mental duty for the Acts of the Apostless taking to decease. Rosie was enduring from depression and her history of sexual maltreatment rendered her likely to fall back to violence when placed in opprobrious state of affairss where her self-pride was eroded therefore may be able to set up a defense mechanism of lessened duty. This will set up an ‘inherent cause’ of her status [ 15 ] but the inquiries remains as to whether this mental status would amount to an ‘abnormality of mind’ . This has been defined as a province of head that is so far removed from the ordinary that a sensible individual would see it unnatural. [ 16 ] The inquiry for the jury, so, is whether Rosie’s depression and background have caused an abnormalcy of head that was operative at the clip of the violent death. Diminished duty confers great discretion on the jury that can be exercised in the defendant’s favor if their understanding is roused so the success of this defense mechanism hinges on whether they perceive Rosie as a vulnerable adult female who was exploited and rejected by her employer or as a manipulative and covetous plotter who set her sights on get marrieding a affluent adult male and struck out when her aspirations were thwarted. The psychiatric grounds suggests the former but the damnatory grounds of her former spouse suggests the latter therefore the success of this defense mechanism is slightly unsure for Rosie.

As diminished duty may non supply a defense mechanism, Rosie may see trust on aggravation. Section 3 provides a defense mechanism for a suspect who was provoked, by things said or done, to lose control in fortunes that would hold provoked a sensible adult male to move in the same was as the suspect. This gives rise to a two-stage trial. The first limb of the trial is subjective and asks whether the suspect suffered a ‘sudden and temporary’ loss of control. [ 17 ] This requires temporal propinquity between the provocative incident and the defendant’s response ; anything else is declarative of retaliation or planned violent death. Here, Rosie is enraged by the electronic mail and confronts James, which could be declarative of a planned onslaught. [ 18 ] However, James’ response in firing Rosie was the ‘final straw’ [ 19 ] which elicited a violent response, utilizing a arm that was readily to manus, therefore set uping the needed immediateness of reaction to fulfill the subjective limb.

However, Rosie must now set up that a sensible adult male would hold been provoked and acted as she did in assailing James. This nonsubjective trial is modified by certain features of the suspect being attributed to the sensible adult male. [ 20 ] There is unsure in instance jurisprudence as to which features of the suspect should be given to the sensible adult male. InSmith, the House of Lords held that any features that affected the defendant’s ability to exert control should be attributed. [ 21 ] Following this, the sensible adult male would be a adult female of Rosie’s age with a love of kids and desire to get married that was late ( and cruelly ) thwarted. The sensible adult male would portion Rosie’s history of maltreatment and depression. If her allegation of colza is true ( although it seems inconsistent with her desire to get married James ) the sensible adult male would besides be the victim of a recent colza. Equipped with these features, the sensible adult male could barely neglect to react as Rosie did and the defense mechanism of aggravation would be established.

However, uncertainties have been expressed aboutSmith. The Privy Council held that it was incorrect to impute so many features to the sensible adult male as this converted an nonsubjective trial into a subjective 1. [ 22 ] This is merely persuasive authorization in this legal power but subsequent Court of Appeal determinations have followed the Privy Council attack of imputing merely features that explain the gravitation of the aggravation instead than the broader attack inSmith. [ 23 ] As such, the sensible adult male would be a adult female of Rosie’s age who had late been dismissed from her station. It would non taken into history her defeated matrimonial aspirations or history of maltreatment and depression. As such, it is far less likely that aggravation will supply a successful defense mechanism for Rosie.

As the handiness of partial defense mechanisms is unsure, Rosie may plead automatism, on the footing of her ‘trance-like state’ , which would ensue in an acquittal. Automatism requires that actions were rendered nonvoluntary as a consequence of some external event [ 24 ] and has included post-traumatic emphasis induced by colza. [ 25 ] Again, this is contingent upon the truth of Rosie’s allegation. Furthermore, if the justice regulations that the dissociative province arose non from an external cause [ 26 ] but from internal cause, such as depression, she will hold established a defense mechanism of insanity. [ 27 ] This is non a popular scheme amongst suspects ; many prefer to plead guilty than be found ‘not guilty by ground of insanity’ . This is attributable to the societal stigma attached to insanity and besides the ability of the justice to order indefinite detainment in a secure infirmary, although the justice has discretion to do alternate orders [ 28 ] even in regard of slaying. [ 29 ] Overall, trust on automatism will non be a sound scheme for Rosie as it carries a hazard that the tribunal will reject this and happen insanity.

Overall, Rosie’s chances are non favorable. Liability for slaying is established and there is no distinct line of defense mechanism that suggests that she will be acquitted or have her liability reduced to manslaughter.

Word Count: 1500 words

Case List

Airedale NHS TrustV.Bland[ 1993 ] AC 789

Attorney-General for JerseyV.Holley[ 2005 ] 3 All ER 371

BrattyV.A-G for NI[ 1963 ] AC 386

DPPV.Camplin[ 1978 ] 2 All ER 168

DPPV.Smith[ 1961 ] AC 290

Hennessy[ 1989 ] 2 All ER 9

M’Naghten Rules( 1843 ) 10 Cl & A ; Fin 200

Mohammed[ 2005 ] EWCA 1880

RoentgenV.Ahluwalia[ 1992 ] 4 All ER 889

RoentgenV.Byrne( 1960 ) 2 QB 396

RoentgenV.Cheshire[ 1991 ] 3 All ER 670

RoentgenV.Cunningham[ 1982 ] AC 566

RoentgenV.Duffy[ 1949 ] 1 All ER 932

RoentgenV.Humphries[ 1995 ] 4 All ER 1008

RoentgenV.James[ 2006 ] EWCA Crim 14

RoentgenV.Jordan( 1956 ) 40 Cr App R 152

RoentgenV.Malcherek and Steel[ 1981 ] 2 All ER 422

RoentgenV.Mohan[ 1975 ] 2 All ER 193

RoentgenV.Pagett( 1983 ) 76 Cr App R 279perRobert Goff LJ at 290

RoentgenV.Smith ( Morgan )[ 2000 ] 3 WLR 654

RoentgenV.Thymine[ 1990 ] Crim LR 256

RoentgenV.Thornton ( No 2 )[ 1996 ] 2 All ER 1023

RoentgenV.White[ 1910 ] 2 KB 124

RoentgenV.Woollin[ 1999 ] 1 AC 82

Legislative acts

Condemnable Procedure ( Insanity and Unfitness to Plead ) Act 1991

Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004

Section 2 of the Homicide Act 1957

Section 3 of the Homicide Act 1957


Allen, M. , ( 2003 )Textbook on Criminal Law, 7Thursdayed. , Oxford: Oxford University Press

Chalmers, J. , ‘Merging Aggravation and Diminished Responsibility ; some Reasons for Scepticism’ [ 2004 ]Criminal Law Review198

Clarkson, C.M.V. and Keating, H.M. , ( 2003 )Condemnable Law: Text and Materials, 5Thursdayed. , London: Sweet & A ; Maxwell

Elliot, C. , ‘What Future for Voluntary Manslaughter? ’ [ 2004 ]Journal of Criminal Law253

Gale, C. and James, A. , ‘Provocation: Law at Time of Trial Relevant’ ( 2004 )Journal of Criminal Law96

Herring, J. , ( 2004 )Condemnable Law: Text, Cases and Materials, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Law Commission Report 290 ( 2003 )Partial Defense mechanisms to Murder. London: HMSO

Mackay, R.D. and Mitchell, B.J. , ‘Provoking Diminished Duty: Two Pleas Merging Together’ [ 2003 ]Criminal Law Review745

Ormerod, D.C. , ( 2005 )Smith & A ; Hogan Criminal Law, 11th ed. , Oxford: Oxford University Press



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