Law School Discussion


« on: December 01, 2005, 07:28:08 PM »
What is the difference, if any, between the criminal standard of causation and the tort law standard of causation? Consider a homicide prosecution and a wrongful death suit. How will the juries in each case be instructed to approach the causation issue on the same facts?

Re: Causation
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2005, 08:34:36 PM »
My understanding is that there is no difference between causation in civil and criminal.  Causation is Causation, proximat and in-fact.  BUT, the standards of proof are very different.  In a civil trial, if causation is the issue in the case, would the Plaintiff have to prove causation by a preponderance of evidence; in criminal, would the prosecutor have to prove causation beyone a reasonable doubt?  I'm not sure, but suppose so.  Probably this is a very law school question and not a practicing lawyer one, but nonetheless, a good question.  What do you think?

Re: Causation
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2005, 08:40:42 PM »
Yeah, I think that's right. It's one of the few areas where tort and criminal law seem to be on all fours with each other, except for the standard of proof.

Re: Causation
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2005, 10:54:39 PM »
I'll have to partially disagree with you guys on this one.  Perhaps you're suggesting this in your answer, but even in torts you have two somewhat varying forms of analysis of cause.  Just look at the difference between cause in the intentional Tort of Battery and the cause you discuss in your prima facie case for Negligence.  I haven't taken Criminal Law yet, but i'd imagine that it's more similar to cause in the intentional tort of Battery.  What do you guys think?  I'd be currious to get a "little edumacatin'".

Re: Causation
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2005, 12:11:42 PM »
You're right. I was talking about causation as as element of negligence only. Causation in intentional tort cases is almost implied.

However, criminal causation, which only applies to crimes with a result element, is not like battery at all. It is like negligence.


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Re: Causation
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2005, 06:37:32 PM »

 Practically speaking, the main issue is convincing a jury you are right here.

 Now see the difference:

   "Beyond reasonable doubt" in a criminal case: It is easy to sell some doubt in a jury's mind as a defense attorney if you are good enough, almost no matter what.
  It is tough to send anyone you have the slightest trace of doubt with regards to guilt in a prison, the easy way out is "not guilty".

   "more likely than not" in a civil case: Making a jury convinced that some kind of negligence was at least 50.00000001% likely to be committed, is an easy sell and especially in the case of monetary compensation. You are not throwing someone in jail, but just taking some $$ away.

  Yes, causation is really only an issue with regards to tort. While I am sure the word in itself is just as valid to use in a criminal case, it really is not a question here, since a criminal case is more about whether you DID it or not. The cause is already determined.

          The jury system is a beautiful way of realizing the legal system if you know how to deal with people that know less than you and your education skills are good.