Precedent and Causation in Law Enforcement
Competencies Addressed in This Assignment
Competency 1: Examine criminal law and procedure.
Competency 2: Articulate the historical development of criminal law.
Competency 5: Communicate effectively in writing.
For criminal liability to exist, the elements of the offense must be proven, such as the criminal mental state and the criminal act. However, other considerations also come into play, such as the link between the act and the resulting harm. For example, factual cause is insufficient for criminal liability, which can be examined through the “but for” test. Instead, for legal cause to exist, the harm must be the proximate result of the act. Proximate cause is present when the resulting harm is the direct and probable result of the criminal act. In the context of foreseeability, the precise harm or injury need not have been anticipated by the actor, but only that which is reasonable in light of all the facts and circumstances surrounding a particular act. Factual causality can be determined through the sine qua non test, which essentially means, “without this, that would not be.”
In this assignment, you will explain the concept of precedent, address how precedent has played a part in the evolution of criminal law, and how precedent-setting cases have provided interpretation for criminal law and criminal procedure in conjunction with the impact of these rulings on law enforcement in the context of causation. Complete the following:
Explain the concept and the role of precedent, in a criminal procedural and criminal law context, as they pertain to law enforcement officers’ handling of criminal cases.
Summarize two precedent-setting cases in the areas of criminal law and criminal procedure dealing with the issue of causation.
Illustrate how your selected cases impact law enforcement officers.
Explore why it is important for law enforcement officers to understand the impact of precedential cases.
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