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CRIM 230 (59)
Lecture

Causation.docx

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Department
Criminology
Course
CRIM 230
Professor
Peter Smith
Semester
Winter

Description
Causation – Intro: - Where a consequence is essential part of offense, crown must show that it was caused by accused - Two layers of causation need to be shown o Factual causation – would it have happened “but/for” the actions of accused? o Legal causation – should the accused be held responsible in this case? - Trakas (OCA – 2008) Shilon (OCA – 2006) – Motorcycle turns to high speed chase. Trakas and Shilon charged with CNCD. Was there causation? - Factual causation? - For Trakas, yes, his SUV rammed into a cop - Also yes for Shilon, there would not have been a car case if not for the theft - Legal causation? - Not speeding at the time and driving normally. No legal causation found. Trakas could not have foreseen an officer suddenly appearing on the road in those circumstances. - OCA said Shilon could be guilty of criminal negligence causing death - “Where conduct is inherently dangerous and carried with it a reasonably foreseeable risk of immediate and substantial harm, the test for legal causation will have been met. Trakas’s actions were a predictable consequence of Shilon.” Causation – Special Rules: - How do we define death? - No definitive legal guidance – generally, it would be a function of “accepted medical practise” - S.226 Where a person causes to a human being a bodily injury that results in death, he causes the death of that human being notwithstanding that the effect of the bodily injury is only to accelerate his death from a disease or disorder arising from some other cause. - If you kill someone, it does not matter that they were soon to die anyway - S.14 No person is entitled to consent to have death inflicted on him, and such consent does not affect the criminal responsibility of any person by whom death may be inflicted on the person by whom consent is given. - Cant consent to any non-trivial harm (Jobidon, etc) - S.241 Everyone who (a) counsels a person to commit suicide, or (b) aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years. Causation – Cutting Life Short: - What constitutes “cutting life short”? - Is a doctor liable for giving painkillers that reduce life expectancy? - From Bodkin Adams (UK-1957): “*cutting life+ short by weeks or months *is+ just as much murder as if it was cut by years”, but also said doctor was entitled to “do all that was proper and necessary to relieve pain and suffering even if the measures he took might incidentally shorten by hours or perhaps even longer” - If a doctor has to stop to do mathematical calculations, they can’t do their job - This part of Bodkin Adams adopted as law (obiter dicta) in Rodriguez - At some point, “medical assistance” is a crime where it goes beyond pain relief and becomes euthanasia/manslaughter – Bodkin Adams – Rodriguez – Latimer - One can refuse treatment even where death will result (QSC in Nancy B) but cannot receive active assistance in dying (Rodriguez, SCC-1993) - In Rodriguez the SCC held that s.241(b) did not violate s.7 of the Charter as it protected the “sanctity of life”. “The purpose is grounded in the state interest in protecting life and reflects a policy of the state that human life should not be depreciated by allowing life to be taken.” - SCC also noted that “the formulation of safeguards to prevent excesses has been unsatisfactory and has failed to allay fears that a relaxation of the clear standard of by the law will undermine the protection of life and will lead to abuses of the exception” Causation – More Than One “Cause of Death”: - There can be more than one cause of death - Think skull rule – take your victim as you find them - Smithers (1977 – midget hockey fight case – kick to the stomach causes reaction) - SCC said – “the kick was at least a contributing cause, outside the de minimis range, and that is all the crown was required to establish” - Test was “clarified” in Nette (2001 – SCC, 95 year old hog tied, multiple possible causes of deaths) - SCC said “it may be preferable to phrase the standard of causation in positive terms using a phrase such as significant contributing cause” - SCC (Arbour) said, “the fact that the appellant’s actions might not have caused death in a different person” does not remove proper causation Causation – The Special Case of S.231(5): - S.231(5) irrespective of whether a murder is planned and deliberate…murder is first degree murder…when the death is caused by that person while committing or attempting to commit a hijacking, sexual assault, kidnapping or hostage taking - Harbottle (1993, SCC) – 2 guys assault girl, one strangles her while Harbottle holds her feet - Crown relied (maybe) on s.231(5) to prove first degree murder (sexual assault) - SCC – while the Smithers standard is okay for a lesser charge, it is specifically inadequate for a s.231(5) charge. Wording of the section and seriousness of the charge require a higher standard. - Causation only sufficient if: “the crown establishes that the accused has committed an act or series of acts which are of such a nature that they must be regarded as a substantial and integral cause of the death…they must play a very active role – usually a physical role in the killing - Nette clarifies that Smithers test still applies otherwise (as reworded) Causation – Intervening Acts: - Where another (independent) injury or event occurs and kills the victim before the actions of the accused take effect, is the accused still liable? - Kitching and Adams (MCA-1976), bouncers dropped drunk on his head, put on life support, kidneys harvested, argued that is what killed him - “There may be two or more independent operative causes of death… The later action could not break the chain of causation “unless the evidence left a reasonable doubt that the accused actions also constituted an operative cause of the deceased’s death” - Also ask – is the “intervener” a natural consequence to the actions of the accused? - In Bradley (1956 – accused attacked and knocked out victim leaving him on the cold streets of Winnipeg) - Court said that death from exposure was a “natural consequence” of the actions of the accused – left the victim defenseless and exposed in the cold - In Maybin (SCC-2012), two brothers punched the deceased, who was then punched by the bouncer - “The intervening acts and the ensuing non-trivial harm must be reasonably foreseeable in the sense that the acts and the harm that actually transpired flowed reasonably from the conduct of the accused… If the intervening act is a direct response or is directly
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