This is one of a series of lessons on homicide, and one of two lessons on the issue of causation in homicide cases. While some crimes require only a prohibited act, with the necessary mental state, other crimes are referred to as "result" crimes. In other words, in order to be convicted, the defendant must "cause" a prohibited result (with the required mens rea and with proof of required attendant circumstances). Homicide is the quintessential result crime in that defendant must have "caused" the death of another in order to be convicted. In this lesson, we explore the concept of causation (both actual and legal) in an effort to determine when, and under what circumstances, a defendant should be criminally accountable for the death of another. This lesson is intended for students who have studied these issues in class, and who wish to refine their knowledge and understanding of the topic.
On completion of the lesson, students will be able to:
1. Analyze the concept of causation (both actual and legal) to determine when, and under what circumstances, a defendant should be criminally accountable for the death of another.
2. Define a "result" crime.
3. Examine the Model Penal Code approach to causation, and explore causation issues.
4. Analyze an essential element of legal causation that involves consideration of whether there are intervening causes (intervening between defendant's conduct and the result).