|This page was last substantively updated or reviewed January 2015. (Rev. # 85790)|
Certain offences in the Criminal Code require not only that the offender do a prohibited act along with the requisite mens rea, but also that the act caused a particular result. Criminal responsibility for causation must be established in fact and in law. This makes a distinction between the physical, biological, or medical cause a particular result and the legal boundary that would attribute responsibility to the accused for the result.
The standard to prove causation is the same as between all homicide offences, including murder, manslaughter, operation of a motor vehicle causing death. Likewise, the standard applies equally to offences involving bodily harm.
The criminal standard of causation in criminal matters is that the "accused's conduct be at least a contributing cause of the [result], outside the de minimis range"
Criminal law does not include any issues of contributory negligence nor does it apportion responsibility for harm caused outside of sentencing.
The inference of foreseeability can be rebutted with evidence of intoxication.
- R v Nette, 2001 SCC 78 (CanLII),  3 SCR 488, per Arbour J, at para 44
- R v KL, 2009 ONCA 141 (CanLII), 248 OAC 260, per Watt JA, at para 17
KL, supra, at para 17 citing:
R v Smithers, 1977 CanLII 7 (SCC),  1 SCR 506, per Dickson J, at p. 519
Nette, supra, at paras 71 and 72
Nette, supra, at para 49
KL, supra, at para 18
R v Seymour, 1996 CanLII 201,  2 SCR 252, per Cory J, at para 23
See R v Daley, 2007 SCC 53 (CanLII),  3 SCR 523, per Bastarache J for details on the law of intoxication
Offences where causation is an essential element
- Homicide (Murder and Manslaughter)
- Attempt Murder
- Assault Causing Bodily Harm (267)
- Aggravated Assault (268)
- Sexual Assault Causing Bodily Harm
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm
- Dangerous Driving Causing Death
- Fraud (380)
- Self-Defence and Defence of Another
Causation by Offence
A person who intentionally stabs another person will generally be considered to have intended to cause bodily harm.
A panic response to circumstances may render an act involuntary.