Lawstudent1420
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Hello, I’ve been set a problem question as homework and I was wondering if anyone could advise me on answering it.

“After a night out, Sarah, who drunk a lot decides to head back home on her own irrespective of feeling unwell. When arriving outside her house, Sarah sees her ex, Jane, is waiting by the front door for her. Sarah thinks Jane wants to confront her because she was the one to end the relationship. Sarah also sees that Jane is holding something, but she isn’t sure of what it is. Convinced that Jane is about to launch at her, Sarah decides to punch her in the face in an attempt to protect herself. Jane, who went there to return something that Sarah left in her house, falls back and hits her head on the handle of the door. Due to the impact, Jane suffers brain damage and dies shortly after .

The following morning Sarah is arrested in connection with Jane’s death. Sarah admits punching Jane in the face, she argues that she was very drunk and that she thought that Jane was about to launch at her.

Discuss Sarah’s potential liability for the death of Jane.

Any help and advice will be very much appreciated. Thankyou
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tinygirl96
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Okay. What is the task?
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Lawstudent1420
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(Original post by tinygirl96)
Okay. What is the task?
I need to discuss the liability of Sarah for this under criminal law.
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tinygirl96
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(Original post by Lawstudent1420)
Hello, I’ve been set a problem question as homework and I was wondering if anyone could advise me on answering it.

“After a night out, Sarah, who drunk a lot decides to head back home on her own irrespective of feeling unwell. When arriving outside her house, Sarah sees her ex, Jane, is waiting by the front door for her. Sarah thinks Jane wants to confront her because she was the one to end the relationship. Sarah also sees that Jane is holding something, but she isn’t sure of what it is. Convinced that Jane is about to launch at her, Sarah decides to punch her in the face in an attempt to protect herself. Jane, who went there to return something that Sarah left in her house, falls back and hits her head on the handle of the door. Due to the impact, Jane suffers brain damage and dies shortly after .

The following morning Sarah is arrested in connection with Jane’s death. Sarah admits punching Jane in the face, she argues that she was very drunk and that she thought that Jane was about to launch at her.

Discuss Sarah’s potential liability for the death of Jane.

Any help and advice will be very much appreciated. Thankyou
Given that Sarah caused her death she could be charged. Being drunk is never a excuse really. Thinking that someone is going to hurt you is not enough as the other party must actually do it. Focus on the far reaching consequences of her violent actions and describe relevant laws. State four or five reasons. Apply your own understanding and theory of the laws on crime and violence. Do you have any notes? If not make some based on other real life case studies that may be relevant. Be honest as well. Best of luck.
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Lawstudent1420
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(Original post by tinygirl96)
Given that Sarah caused her death she could be charged. Being drunk is never a excuse really. Thinking that someone is going to hurt you is not enough as the other party must actually do it. Focus on the far reaching consequences of her violent actions and describe relevant laws. State four or five reasons. Apply your own understanding and theory of the laws on crime and violence. Do you have any notes? If not make some based on other real life case studies that may be relevant. Be honest as well. Best of luck.
Thankyou very much for your reply, I did think that Sarah would be liable for manslaughter ultimately due to the lacking of the mens rea element as it was on the spot and not premeditated, but I wasn’t sure if she would have shown oblique intention in this instance as striking the skull is an inherently reckless thing to do due to the fragility and the eggshell principle.
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Scottishlad888
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(Original post by Lawstudent1420)
Thankyou very much for your reply, I did think that Sarah would be liable for manslaughter ultimately due to the lacking of the mens rea element as it was on the spot and not premeditated, but I wasn’t sure if she would have shown oblique intention in this instance as striking the skull is an inherently reckless thing to do due to the fragility and the eggshell principle.
Her legal team can also claim that Sarah has mental health problems yes she would be charged with manslaughter ?
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Scottishlad888
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(Original post by Lawstudent1420)
Thankyou very much for your reply, I did think that Sarah would be liable for manslaughter ultimately due to the lacking of the mens rea element as it was on the spot and not premeditated, but I wasn’t sure if she would have shown oblique intention in this instance as striking the skull is an inherently reckless thing to do due to the fragility and the eggshell principle.
Her legal team can also claim that Sarah has mental health problems yes she would be charged with manslaughter ?
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Lawstudent1420
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(Original post by Scottishlad888)
Her legal team can also claim that Sarah has mental health problems yes she would be charged with manslaughter ?
Think it’s a bit out of context as the question doesn’t mention mental fragility at all so would be wrong to infer it, pleading insanity is a really hard defence to prove
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Scottishlad888
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(Original post by Lawstudent1420)
Think it’s a bit out of context as the question doesn’t mention mental fragility at all so would be wrong to infer it, pleading insanity is a really hard defence to prove
You dont have to be insane to have some form of mental health problem ? well not in Scotland
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Lawstudent1420
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(Original post by Scottishlad888)
You dont have to be insane to have some form of mental health problem ? well not in Scotland
Where does the question insinuate she has mental health problems though? To use that as a valid defence you would have to be proven insane
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RV3112
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(Original post by Lawstudent1420)
Hello, I’ve been set a problem question as homework and I was wondering if anyone could advise me on answering it.

“After a night out, Sarah, who drunk a lot decides to head back home on her own irrespective of feeling unwell. When arriving outside her house, Sarah sees her ex, Jane, is waiting by the front door for her. Sarah thinks Jane wants to confront her because she was the one to end the relationship. Sarah also sees that Jane is holding something, but she isn’t sure of what it is. Convinced that Jane is about to launch at her, Sarah decides to punch her in the face in an attempt to protect herself. Jane, who went there to return something that Sarah left in her house, falls back and hits her head on the handle of the door. Due to the impact, Jane suffers brain damage and dies shortly after .

The following morning Sarah is arrested in connection with Jane’s death. Sarah admits punching Jane in the face, she argues that she was very drunk and that she thought that Jane was about to launch at her.

Discuss Sarah’s potential liability for the death of Jane.

Any help and advice will be very much appreciated. Thankyou
The question requires you to consider to complete all the normal steps regarding involuntary manslaughter (specifically UDA manslaughter). These steps are all straightforward. It seems clear that the mens rea for murder is absent, so this offence can be ruled out. The question raises no issues about mental health, oblique intention, or the eggshell skull rule.

The only significant issue to be resolved is the question of self-defence. You need to consider the elements of this defence (necessity of force, reasonable amount of force etc). The issue seems to be whether Sarah can rely on a mistaken belief of self-defence that was caused by intoxication. The comment above that pre-emptive force cannot be used is completely incorrect (see e.g. Devlin v. Armstrong). The relevant rule is that an intoxicated mistake cannot be relied upon as a basis for self-defence: see R. v. Hatton, later codified in CIJA 2008, s.76(5). So, Sarah can only rely upon the defence where a reasonable, sober person would have made the same error.
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Lawstudent1420
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(Original post by RV3112)
The question requires you to consider to complete all the normal steps regarding involuntary manslaughter (specifically UDA manslaughter). These steps are all straightforward. It seems clear that the mens rea for murder is absent, so this offence can be ruled out. The question raises no issues about mental health, oblique intention, or the eggshell skull rule.

The only significant issue to be resolved is the question of self-defence. You need to consider the elements of this defence (necessity of force, reasonable amount of force etc). The issue seems to be whether Sarah can rely on a mistaken belief of self-defence that was caused by intoxication. The comment above that pre-emptive force cannot be used is completely incorrect (see e.g. Devlin v. Armstrong). The relevant rule is that an intoxicated mistake cannot be relied upon as a basis for self-defence: see R. v. Hatton, later codified in CIJA 2008, s.76(5). So, Sarah can only rely upon the defence where a reasonable, sober person would have made the same error.
Thankyou, that is a really helpful answer.
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