"Cause" = antecedent but for which the result in question would nave have occurred.
Applies common law principles like multiple sufficient causation (actual result would not have occurred as it did).
Apply common law discussion below.
No actual proximate cause in MPC; treats matters of proximate causation as issues relating to actor's culpability.
Generally, D is still liable if…
The actual result involves the same kind of injury but it happens in a different way
The actual result is different from the intended result only in that a different person or property is injured.
If the offense does not contain MR, causation is not established unless the result is the probable consequence of D's conduct.
Thus, in MPC Causation jurisdictions, FM is only applicable if the death is a probable consequence of the felony.
When P or K causing a particular result is an element of the offense and actual result is not within the purpose or contemplation of D, element is still established if…
The actual result differs only in that a different person or property is injured or affected or that the injury or harm designed or contemplated would have been more serious or extensive than that caused. OR
The actual result involves the same kind of injury or harm as that designed or contemplated and is not too remote or accidental in its occurrence to have a just bearing on D's liability or on the gravity of his offense.
When R or N causing a particular result is an element of the offense and actual result is not within the risk of which D is aware (for R) or of which D should be aware (for N), element is still established if…
The actual result differs from the probable result only in the respect that a different person or property is injured or affected or that the probable injury or harm would have been more serious or extensive than that caused. OR
The actual result involves the same kind of injury as the probable result and is not too remote or accidental in its occurrence to have a just bearing on D's liability or on the gravity of the offense.
When SL causing a particular result is a material element of the offense, element is established if the actual result is a probable consequence of D's conduct.
Causation in the Common Law
Cause in Fact
But for D's voluntary acts, would the result have occurred when it did and as it did?
Multiple ways to satisfy actual cause…
Acceleration of result
D's actions cause death/result sooner. Actual result would not have occurred when it did but for D's acts.
Ex. Oxendine v. State
D's GF inflicts mortal wound on V. Later, D beats V up. Experts cannot prove that D's actions accelerated the death.
Held that since cannot prove acceleration of death, D did not cause death, not liable. GF is.
Could have possibly argued omission liability for father; should have taken to hospital sooner.
Multiple sufficient causation
D's actions cause death/result in a different way. Actual result would not have occurred as it did but for D's acts.
Ex. D1 and D2 simultaneously shoot V in heart and head. V would not have died as he did (from two moral wounds inflicted simultaneously). D1 and D2 are both but-for causes.
Multiple insufficient causes
D's actions alone would not cause the death/result. Actual result would not have occurred but for D's acts.
Ex. D1 and D2 both inflict non-mortal wounds that combine to kill V. Both D1 and D2 are but-for causes of V's death.
Ex. Would-be-fatal shot by D1 is followed by instantly-fatal shot by D2. D1 is only guilty of attempt because his purpose was obstructed by D2.
Determines who or what events among those that satisfy the but-for test should be held liable for the resulting harm.
There is no real "test"; determined based on policy considerations or matters of fairness regarding D's responsibility.
Intervening Causes - another but-for cause that comes in after D's voluntary act that operates in producing social harm
Act of God
Act of independent third party that accelerates or aggravates the harm caused by D or which causes it to occur in an unexpected manner.
An act or omission of the victim that assists in bringing about the outcome.
Ex. Velasquez v. State
Is the intervening act a superseding act (and relieve D of liability)?
Issue: When is intervening conduct (of third party, V, natural force) so out-of-the-ordinary that it is no longer fair to say that harm was caused by D (what but for causes should cause liability)?
Factors to consider…
De minimis contribution to offense
D's causal responsibility for the ensuring harm is insubstantial in comparison to that of the intervening cause.
Ex. D strikes V. V drives to hospital and is struck by lightning on the way. D not proximate cause.
Responsive (dependent) intervening causes, acts that occur in response to D's prior wrongdoing, do not relieve the original wrongdoer of responsibility.
Coincidental (independent) intervening causes, acts that do not occur in response to D's prior wrongdoing, relieve the original wrongdoer of responsibility unless the intervention was foreseeable.
Ex. Kibbe v. State
Ds left drunk V on side of road after robbing him. V wandered into road and got hit by car and killed.
Held that this was a coincidental intervening cause, but it was reasonably foreseeable. Thus, Ds are liable.
Apparent Safety Doctrine
If V has reached apparent safety after D's act but does not take advantage of it for some reason, D is probably not liable.
Ex. D threatens wife V. V leaves the house in the freezing cold. Goes to father's house but doesn’t want to wake him. Sleeps outside, freezes to death. Held that V's actions were a superseding cause. V was in a position of apparent safety but chose not to use it.
Intended Consequences Doctrine
D is the proximate cause of the result if he intended the result, even if the result does not occur in the way D intended.
Ex. Mother, intending death of child V, furnished poison to nurse, telling her it was medicine. Nurse decided not to administer, left it out. Child's friend gave it to child in a game one day. Held that D was liable for the death. Got what she wanted.
Free, Deliberate, Informed Human Intervention
Usually relieves D of liability.
Note: Courts are likely to look farther back (and more likely to find D liable) for intentional/knowing acts than for R/N acts.
Ex. State v. Rose
D non-negligently struck V with car. Dragged V under car for a while then fled scene. Was not clear if V died on impact or from being dragged.
Held that if V was killed on impact then D is not guilty of negligent homicide.