Causation answer.

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Rianna Treasure
Explain using cases and/or examples the meaning of causation
Causation is the link between the defendant's act and the criminal consequence. The rules of
causation are applied to decide whether the defendant's guilty act caused the required
consequence of a particular crime. In many cases causation is not an issue however when it
is less clear the prosecution must prove both factual and legal causation.
Under factual causation, the defendant can only be guilty if the consequence would not have
happened `but for' his act. In the case of White, the defendant put cyanide in his Mother's
drink intending to kill her. She died shortly thereafter as a result of a heart attack, unrelated
to the poison. Whilst White had intended to kill her and she had died, he had not caused her
death and therefore could not be guilty of murder.
In the case of Pagett, the defendant used his girlfriend as a human shield whilst he shot at
armed police, the police fired back and Gail died. Pagett was convicted of Gail's
manslaughter as `but for' his use of her as a human shield, she would not have died.
Once factual causation has been established, the prosecution must also prove legal
causation. In order for the defendant to have criminal liability, the chain of causation (the link
between the act and the consequence) must remain unbroken in order. The `operating and
substantial' cause is the key test for legal causation and means that the victims original injury
must be the `operating and substantial cause' at the time of their death or final injury. Two
cases involving medical intervention illustrate this test, however it must be taken into
consideration that there is a degree of sympathy for doctors and will only be considered to
have caused the injury or death if treatment is `palpably wrong.' In the case of Jordan the
victim whose original wounds has almost healed, was given an incorrect injection by a
doctor and died. The medical treatment was classified as `palpably wrong', therefore there
was no legal causation and the defendant was acquitted as the original injury was not the
`operating and substantial' cause of death. In the case of Smith it was held that the
defendant's stabbing wound was the `operating and substantial' cause of the victims death,
and that the victim clearly died from loss of blood caused by the stab wound and not by the
doctor's negligent treatment.
Sometimes the cause of the death or injury can be a completely independent act this is
known as Novus Actus Interveniens and will break the chain of causation. In the case of
Malcherek the defendant argued that the doctors had broken the chain of causation by
switching off the life support machine. However it was held that the `operating and
substantial' cause had been the original wounds inflicted by the defendant and switching off
the life support machine did not cause a break in the chain of causation.
The general principal is that `you take your victim' as you find him, this is also known as the
thin skull rule and means that the law does not take into account any particular
characteristics of the victim, the fact that the victim has a think skull would be a risk the
defendant takes. In the case of Blaue the victim was stabbed by the defendant, and refused
a life saving blood transfusion as it was against her religious beliefs. The defendant argued
her refusal of a blood transfusion broke the chain of causation however the defendant had
to take his victim as her found her, meaning not just her physical condition but also her
religious beliefs.

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Rianna Treasure
Finally, if the defendant causes the victim to act in a foreseeable way, then the victim's own
act will not break the chain of causation. In Roberts it was held that it was foreseeable for
the victim to jump out a car as the defendant had made sexual advances towards her, and
that her conduct was reasonable.…read more


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