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Nate, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 10686
Experience:  Over 10 years of criminal defense practice.
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How should i approach problem questions in criminal law

Resolved Question:

How should i approach problem questions in criminal law?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Singapore, Singapore

Already Tried:

Expert:  Nate replied 8 years ago.
I'd love to help you out. What kind of context are you talking about, and could you give me an example of what kind of question you need help with?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Example of a question

Ian during a hockey match,was very angry and deliberately kicked jane,who had fallen to the ground. In particular, he kicked her in the head. She was concussed but unknown to to anyone was semi-conscious. Subsequently,she attacked kelly,her team capatain,with her stick and in the changing room tore up the clothes of other members of her team.While in this state she was walking home when she stepped in front of an on-coming double decker bus which had to swerve to avoid her.In the process it toppled over and three passengers were injured and one killed. Jane could remember nothing about these events. Advise Ian and jane of the criminal liability. What difference,if any,would it make to your advice if jane has suffered severe headaches for the six months since.

Expert:  Nate replied 8 years ago.
In a case like this, you are focusing on the mens rea. Criminal liability consists of two parts, the mens rea, which is the state of mind of the defendant, and the actus reus, which are the acts committed.

In the example you provided, you would be focusing on the mens rea of both, as the actus reus is rather clear. Ian is clearly criminally liable in that he intentionally kicked Jane. Jane's mental status was compromised due to her concussion, so it cannot be said she had sufficient forethought for her actions to be intentional. This applies as well to the actions that resulted in the bus accident. What exactly her mental culpability is would be up for debate, but it is clearly limited by her diminished mental state per the actions of Ian.

I hope this helps. Please be sure to click on ACCEPT so that I can get credit for my answer. As always, if you have follow-up questions after clicking ACCEPT, I will be happy to answer them.

Nathan Moore

Customer: replied 8 years ago.


What I would like to know is the step by step approach in answerng this question. Again could Jane plead automatism as her defence? What about the headaches? Could she plead insanity?

Expert:  Nate replied 8 years ago.
Insanity would be dicey - one must not appreciate the wrongfulness of one's actions. That is always a tough standard.

Automatism would be your better bet. In People v. Decina (1956) 2 NY2d 13 3, 143 the defendant was an epileptic. While driving his car, he had an epileptic seizure and the car went out of control, killing four people. The defendant was convicted of negligent homicide because he had voluntarily driven an automobile without assistance knowing that a seizure was possible. In this case, there is no way that Jane would have pre-knowledge or culpability for her condition. Medical proof, of course, would always be important with this kind of defense. Remember as well that automatism typically requires a complete, not partial, loss of control.

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