Criminal Law Midterm

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Midterm Criminal Law

State v. Doug


The unlawful taking of the life of one human being by another.

Actual Causation :

The defendant’s act must have been the “cause in fact” of the victim’s death. Without the defendant’s actions, the victim would not have died.

“But for” Doug shooting and killing Tom, he would not have died.

Proximate Causation:

A defendant’s actions are the proximate cause of the victim’s death if the result occurs as a consequence of the defendant’s act. There is no other casually connected act. The defendant’s conduct is the direct cause of the harm.

Doug was the sole causal agent, and he brought about Tom’s death by shooting and killing him. Therefore, Doug was the proximate cause of Tom’s death.


Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is the intention to cause the death of, or grievous bodily harm to, a human being.

Because Doug shot and killed Tom he will be charged with murder. Because Doug went to a nearby drawer to grab a gun, and then shot Dan, there was malice aforethought.

First Degree Murder:

First degree murder is murder where there was premeditation, deliberation, and then willful killing.

Doug was “fearing for his life” and did not have premeditation or deliberation. Doug will not be convicted of first degree murder.

Second Degree Murder:

Second degree murder is murder where there is malice aforethought but it was not premeditated.

Because Doug did commit murder but did not premeditate, his charge will be second degree murder.

Voluntary Manslaughter:

Voluntary manslaughter is a killing done “on a sudden”, in the “heat of passion”, after “adequate provocation”. The Model Penal Code declares that a killing “which otherwise would be murder” is manslaughter under certain conditions.

Because Tom threatened to “beat Doug badly”, and Doug then feared for his life, there was legally adequate...
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