Scenario One
The basis of your response is based on is Brian the proximate cause of Joe’s death?  Why or why not?

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According to this case, Brian is not the proximate cause of Joe’s death. During their walk, Brian accidentally pushed Joe over the ravine. He did not have the plans of pushing him over. Because of guilt, he went ahead and took him to the hospital, where he left him at the emergency room. Joe went to the washrooms on his own afterwards, where he later passed out then died. Joe’s internal bleeding could have been worsened by his movements to the washrooms. This dismisses Brian as the proximate cause of Joe’s death.

Explain what doctrine, if any applies.
This scenario could be placed under the criminally negligence manslaughter. Brian is behind pushing Joe over the ravine but he had no intention of harming him. On the other hand, he is culpable for being negligent of the fact that pushing him would make Joe fall over the ravine hence putting him behind the cause of injury of Joe.

Explain Actus Reus and Men’s Rea.  Were either a factor in this scenario?
Actus Reus refers to a voluntary act or omission that renders the perpetrator as guilty. The voluntary act refers to the act committed by the perpetrator. An omission refers to failure to perform an act of which the individual is physically capable of. According to the case study, Brian accidentally caused Joe’s fall. This shows that he was involuntarily behind the injuries that Joe experienced.

The Men rea, on the other hand, refers to the mental state required by the definition of the offense to accompany the act that produces or threatens the harm (Robillard, 2005) or simply, the guilty mind. Presence of the guilty mind, or intention to commit the murder warrants punishment. On the other hand, there is defense resting in the absence of the men’s rea. According to this case, it is clear that there was absence of the men’s rea. Brian pushing Joe over the ravine was an accident. This does not mean that Brian was not culpable for the act. Though unintentional, Brian is found to be negligent, as he should have been aware of the dangers of his act of pushing Joe, but was not, during the time of action.

Discuss strict liability and if Brian is liable.
Strict liability refers to absolute legal responsibility of a certain act that caused harm or injury to the victim, which is imposed on the perpetrator, regardless of negligence or the intent to harm. In this case, Brian is liable for the injuries on Joe, that later caused his death. This is because, despite being an accident, Brian was negligent of the harm that may come along with his action. He jokingly pushed Joe, and Joe accidentally fell off the ravine. Brian remains to be cause of the harm that was caused by Joe’s fall.

Discuss causation and which type if any applies.
Causation refers to the relationship between an action and its result. This is the material element that is behind a particular crime. According to this case, Brian accidentally pushed Joe over the ravine, and later on, Joe died of internal bleeding. This would qualify the type of causation as factual causation. It is due to Brian’s accidental push that Joe suffered the injuries. If Brian had not pushed Joe in the first place, Joe would not have sustained internal injuries, therefore, he would not have died.

Discuss ignorance and mistake.  Which applies, if any in this scenario?
Ignorance and mistake are charged differently in a court of law. Ignorance could also be termed as mistake of law. This is where an individual consciously commits an act but uses the excuse that he/she did not know that it was illegal. Mistake on the other hand is also termed as a mistake of fact. This is when an individual misunderstands the facts of a situation and ends up doing something that breaks the law. In this case, none of the two apply as the accident occurred with no Men’s Rea to murder or harm Joe.

Reference and include a case study within your response that is similar and supports your decision
People v. Decina – An epileptic man got a seizure while driving, and he was held responsible for an accident that led to several bystander deaths. The awareness of the fact that he had a condition which he knew may produce such consequences, and still disregarded the consequences, made him liable for culpable negligence. (Robillard, 2005). The accused was aware of his condition but did not consider the harm that would arise, not only on himself, but also the general public, if he got a seizure while driving. His seizure caused the death of several people, making him culpable for third degree murder as there was no Mens Rea.

Scenario Two
The basis of your response is based on if Brennan is guilty of first-degree murder?  Why or why not?

According to this case, Brennan is not guilty of first-degree murder. This is because, it would be easier to charge him for first degree murder, as he initially had prior motives of killing Carrie and throwing her into the river. But we later see that he changes his mind and instead of murder, he decided to get a divorce and a large alimony from her every month. Brennan could not achieve this if Carrie was dead. For his plan to be successful, Carrie had to be alive. This therefore discredits his earlier intentions of killing her, and terms the death only as an accident.

Explain the motive and what type of intent applies.
Based on the case, Brennan’s initial motive was an expression motive as his motivation for committing the crime was caused by his recent realization of betrayal by his wife. On the other hand, he did not proceed with the plan but an accident put him liable of Carrie’s death. The type of intent according to the case is a constructive intent as hitting Carrie while pulling out was unintentional.

Explain Actus Reus and Mens Rea.  Were either a factor in this scenario?
The Actus Reus in this case, which is the act that makes the perpetrator guilty, is how Brennan accidentally run Carrie over with his car, giving her injuries that later caused her death. During that particular time of the action, Brennan’s intention was not to kill Carrie. He was pulling out when the accident happened. It is clear that before that, Brennan had the Men’s Rea to kill Carrie after learning the hard truth. He had the idea fully pre-meditated, on how he would do it, and dispose her corpse, and he even took time and jotted it down in his journal. But we later come to see that, he never completed his plan as he had a change of heart, and decided to get a large alimony out of her instead. On one side of the case, in defense of Carrie, it can be stated that the Mens Rea is a factor in this scenario. It could be argued that Brennan had the intention of killing Carrie and went on with his plan, then used the accident as an excuse to his defense. That would qualify the incident as a first degree murder. On the other hand, to Brennan’s defense, it could be stated that the Mens Rea was not a factor in this scenario. Although he had initial thoughts of killing her, he later had a change of heart, and his current plan, which was getting alimony from her required her to be alive for it to work. Therefore, he had no intention of killing her. Thus would qualify the case as a third degree murder.

Discuss strict liability and if Brennan is liable.
Based on strict liability, Brennan is found responsible for the death of Carrie as at the end of the day, whether he had the Mens Rea to kill her or did not have it, he is the one who run her over while pulling out, showing he had involvement and was in control of the Actus Reus. Running Carrie over gave her injuries, that she later succumbed to.

Discuss causation and which type if any applies.
Causation refers to the relationship between an action and its result. In this case, the action of matter is how Brennan ran Carrie over while pulling out, and the result of this is that Carrie later succumbed to the injuries she got from the accident. Brennan had no intentions of killing her, but accidentally running her over later killed her. Brennan was not the proximate causation of Carrie’s death but rather the factual causation, as his action later led to Carrie’s death. Had he not ran Carrie over, she would still be alive.

Discuss ignorance and mistake.  Which applies, if any in this scenario?
Ignorance and mistake also refer to mistake of law and mistake of facts reepectively.in this scenario, mistake of law would apply. Out of anger or feelings of betrayal, Brennan went ahead and plotted murder against Cassie and even left evidence of it in his journal. Even though he did not pull through with the plan, he did not know that those plans could be used against him later on when the accident took place.

Reference and include a case study within your response that is similar and supports your decision.
White v. State (1933) p227
Facts: The charged was convicted of violating an act that provided that no husband may abandon a pregnant woman. The trial court stated that the charged was no less guilty because he was not aware of the status of his wife as being pregnant.
Rule: the court held that he could not use ignorance or mistake of law as a defense, and that he committed the immoral act at his own risk. (Robillard, 2005). The charged used ignorance as an excuse to his defense, stating that at the time of his departure, he was not aware of the status of the wife. The court on the other hand does not take ignorance as an excuse from culpability.

    References
  • Shute, S., & Simester, A.(Eds.) (2002-04-04)., Criminal Law Theory: Doctrines of the General Part. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 9 Feb. 2017
  • Samaha, J. (2008). Criminal law. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.78-103,172-205.
  • Robillard, L.(2005). Criminal law.CrimLaw-S05-Sadat-Robillard.