Proximate Cause - Proximate Cause Criminal Law Definition ( 2021 ) - Limburg 60

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Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Proximate Cause - Proximate Cause Criminal Law Definition ( 2021 )

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause is the primary or moving cause of the death of the victim; it's the cause that within the natural and continuous sequence unbroken with any “efficient intervening cause” produces death and without which the fatal result couldn't have happened. It's the cause, which is the nearest in the order of responsible causation (Black’s Law Dictionary). 

proximate cause criminal law

Proximate Cause Intervening cause - The direct relation between the intentional felony and death may be broken by an economical efficient intervening cause or an active force which is either a distinct act or truth completely foreign from the felonious act of the offender. Lightning that kills the injured victim or tetanus infecting the victim several many days after the infliction of injuries, or voluntary immersing the wounds to aggravate the crime committed by the suspect is an intervening cause. 


Thus, the suspect is liable for physical injuries because of the intervening cause rule. On the other hand, carelessness of the victim, or involuntary removal of the drainage, lack of proper treatment is not intervening cause. Hence, the accused is liable for death because of the proximate cause rule.


If the victim died due to tetanus that he was infected when the accused inflicted injuries upon him, the crime committed is homicide (People vs. Cornel, G.R. No. L-204, May 16, 1947). If the victim died due to tetanus of which he was infected when the defendant inflicted injuries upon him, the crime committed is physical injuries. The accused isn't liable for homicide because tetanus is an efficient intervening cause. 


Thus, the proximate cause of the death of the victim is not the infliction of injuries. In Villacorta vs. People, G.R. No. 186412, Sep 7, 2011 (Justice De Castro), there had been an interval of twenty-two days between the date of the stabbing and the date when the victim was hurried to the hospital, exhibiting symptoms of severe tetanus infection.  


Since the victim was infected with severe tetanus, he died the next day. The incubation period of severe tetanus is less than 14 days. Hence, he couldn't have been infected at the time of the stabbing since that incident occurred 22 days before the victim was rushed to the hospital. The infection of the victim’s stab wound by tetanus was AN economical intervening cause. The defendant was controlling responsible for physical injuries.


Proximate cause has been defined as "that cause, which, in a natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred." Although there was no direct injury on the vital organs of the victim, his wounds affected his kidneys, causing multiple organ failures and eventually his death. 


The accused is liable for homicide. Without the stab wounds, the victim could not have been afflicted with an infection which later on caused multiple organ failures that caused his death. The offender is criminally liable for the death of the victim if his delictual act caused, accelerated, or contributed to the death of the victim (Belbis, Jr. vs. People, GR No. 181052, November 14, 2012).


PROXIMATE CAUSE ERROR IN PERSONAE - In case of an error in personae, a person is criminally responsible for committing an intentional felony although the consequent victim is different from that intended due to a mistake of identity. Requisites: 

Proximate Cause In order to make a person criminally liable in case of an error in personae, the following requisites must be present:

1. Offender committed an intentional felony.

2. The consequent victim against whom the felony was directed is different from that intended due to a mistake of identity. If the penalty for the intended crime is different from that of the committed crime, the court shall impose the penalty for the intended crime or committed crime, whichever is lesser.


ABERRATION ICTUS - In the case of aberration ictus, a person is criminally responsible for committing an intentional felony although the consequent victim is different from that intended due to the mistake of the blow. Requisites: In order to make a person criminally liable in case of aberration ictus, the following requisites should be present: 

1. Offender committed an intentional felony.

2. The consequent victim against whom the felony was directed is different from that intended due to the mistake of the blow. The crime committed against the intended victim and victim injured due to aberration ictus shall be made a complex crime (compound crime). The court shall impose the penalty for the most serious crime in its maximum period. 

The circumstance of aberration ictus (mistake in the blow) can neither exempt the accused from criminal responsibility nor mitigate his criminal liability. Under Article 4 of RPC, criminal liability is incurred by any person committing a felony although the wrongful act did be different from that which he intended (Matic vs. People, G.R. No. 180219, Nov 23, 2011).


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