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What is the difference between factual and legal causation

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What is the difference between factual and legal causation in referce to criminal intent
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 5 years ago.
Thanks so much for choosing this forum to pose your important legal question. I will do my best to give you some honest and accurate guidance as I answer your question.

 

  1. I am a licensed attorney with criminal law experience. I will be glad to try and answer your question. I hope that the following information will be helpful to you, but please just write back if you have any follow-up questions or need clarification after reviewing the following information.
  2. The difference is as follows. Factual causation is what "actually happened". For example, "but for" lighting a match there would have been no fire. Legal causation building upon factual issues in terms of criminal culpability. For instance, building upon my earlier simple hypothetical example of a fire, criminal causation would concern whether or not a defendant is criminally culpable (i.e. arson). Here is another example along the lines of criminal law. But for a soldier firing a bullet into the chest of an enemy, the other soldier would not have died. That is factual causation. However, in terms of legal causation, the soldier would not be held criminally culpable for the death (i.e. murder) since the incident took place in combat under lawful orders.
  3. I hope that makes sense, but please do not hesitate to write back if needed. I shall be signing off soon to attend to some other professional obligations. Please rest assured, however, that I will be sure to check for any updated posts from you when I return to this online forum.

 

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The information provided is general in nature only and should not be construed as legal advice. By using this forum, you acknowledge that no attorney-client relationship has been created between you and Benjamin M. Burt, Jr., Esq. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

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