• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Liability in criminal law requires the prosecution to establish that the accused has caused the relevant prohibited consequences or conduct to occur. For instance, in homicide, that the accused has caused the victim(TM)s death

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'Liability in criminal law requires the prosecution to establish that the accused has caused the relevant prohibited consequences or conduct to occur. For instance, in homicide, that the accused has caused the victim's death'. Explain, by reference to decided cases, how the courts have approached the requirement of causation. Causation must be established for nearly all offences, but it so happens that the crime of murder provides the best illustrations of the principles of causation. Whether the defendant's acts or omissions actually caused the victim's death is always for the jury to decide. The judge directs the jury as to the elements of causation. The defendant may only be convicted of murder if the jury are satisfied that the defendant's conduct was both a factual and legal cause of the victim's death. These are the two main principles of causation. The prosecution must decide that 'but for' the defendant's act, the victim would not have died. Therefore it must be established that the consequence would not have occurred as and when it did but for the defendant's conduct. If the conduct would have happened anyway, there is no liability. This is the factual test. The case of White (1910) illustrates this principle. The defendant put poison into his mother's drink with intent to kill her, in order to gain under her will. Later she was found dead with the glass full of the poisoned drink beside her. She had actually died from a heart attack. ...read more.

Middle

In Pagett (1983) several police officers were trying to arrest the defendant for several offences. He armed himself with a shot gun and used the victim as a human shield. He fired at two officers who returned the fire and killed the victim. He was convicted of manslaughter because it was reasonably foreseeable that the police would shoot back in self-defence and in the lawful exercise of their duty. The majority in the area of legal causation involve medical treatment. The defendant will still be held liable for murder or manslaughter if the treatment is improper of even negligent. In Smith (1959) the defendant stabbed the victim, who was dropped twice on a stretcher on the way to the hospice. He was not treated for forty-five minutes and staff did not realise that one of his lungs had been pierced causing a haemorrhage. Consequently, they gave him treatment, which was described in the court as "thoroughly bad and might well have affected his chances of recovery". The victim died and the defendant was charged with murder because it was said that the stab wound was still "operating" and "substantial" at the time of death. This may be seen as extremely unfair because the treatment and the hospice contributed greatly to the death. Only grossly abnormal treatment will be seen as not reasonably foreseeable according to Cheshire (1991). Here, the defendant had shot the victim in the stomach and in hospital he underwent bowl surgery which was successful. ...read more.

Conclusion

In Holland (1841) the defendant cut the victim on the finger, and the wound became infected. The victim ignored the fact that he needed his finger amputated and died of blood poisoning. The defendant was convicted of manslaughter. This may not be entirely fair because the victim refused help so maybe a conviction of either ABH or GBH would have been more appropriate. The same result occurred in the case of Dear (1996) where the defendant slashed the victim with a knife. The victim failed to seek medical help and even picked at his wounds - appearing to take the chance to commit suicide. The victim died and the defendant was convicted of murder. This may seem unfair as it was also known that the victim had a record of trying to commit suicide. Defendants cannot complain if their victims are particularly susceptible to physical injury. This is known as the 'thin skull' test. In Blaue (1975) the defendant stabbed the victim after she refused to have sex with him. She needed a blood transfusion but refused because she was a Jehovah's Witness. The defendant was convicted of manslaughter. This seems unfair because it was indicated from medical experts that she would have survived if she accepted the transfusion. It is clear that the law always requires causation when deciding whether convictions are upheld or quashed. Although the causation agreements in case law do seem to be morally inaccurate, especially where there are new intervening acts. It seems that the factual causation test is much more justified than the legal one. ?? ?? ?? ?? Nicole Aquilina ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Criminal Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Criminal Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    English law does not normally impose liability for an omission or failure to act ...

    4 star(s)

    The Final Category of omission where a duty of care is owed is a duty to limit harm caused or a duty in a dangerous situation. When a defendant causes a dangerous situation to exist they may be liable for failing to take adequate steps to limit any harm their actions may have caused.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Critical evaluation of murder for A2 law unit 4

    3 star(s)

    So those who attempt murder could be as potentially dangerous as those who murder, yet the sentences are both different, which is unfair as the point of the law is to protect the public from potentially dangerous criminals and from harm.

  1. The justifiable use of force in self-defence depends entirely upon the circumstances in which ...

    The courts quashed her convictions as she had struck out in the "agony of the moment". It was said that it was not necessary for her to demonstrate a reluctance to fight. This may seem impractical as in some cases, there may be a chance to walk away safely resulting in no harm caused.

  2. Causation. To establish causation it is necessary to firstly ask if the defendant in ...

    One way is to ask, "But for what the defendant did would the consequences have occurred?" This is also known as the Factual Cause. There may be more than one acts contributing to the consequence; some of these acts may be made by people other than the defendant.

  1. Nina runs a burger bar. She puts up a sign in the window saying ...

    by failing to disclose information is viable, but fraud by false representation was a more logical and obvious argument to pursue. Quince - Fraud by failing to disclose information This is not theft as shown by AG Reference (No.1 of 1985), as the concept of theft by importing the equitable

  2. Explain what is meant by the term 'causation' in criminal law and assess how ...

    An example case of this is Blaue (1975), where the defendant stabbed a Jehovah?s Witness, who refused to have a blood transfusion that would save her life, and thus was guilty of murder. One of the problems in causation is whether this rule should exist.

  1. Explain what is meant by the term causation in criminal law and assess how ...

    Pagett was convicted of her manslaughter she would not have died ?but for? his actions. If the consequence would have occurred anyway there is no liability this happened in White where the defendant put cyanide ion his mothers drink intending to kill her she died of a heart attack before drinking it.

  2. 'Law should encourage citizens in their civic duty to do "the right thing" in ...

    He then went into the adjacent room and slept in there whilst the fire continued. He was convicted of arson. There are some exceptions to these duties, however, as doctors are not liable if they decide to discontinue treating patients in their own interest.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work