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This section covers the criminal law doctrines which apply to all criminal cases. These are miscellaneous broad principles which may apply regardless of the crime at issue.

Our first section deals with the issue of causation. As a general broad principle, causation must be demonstrated to show that a criminal offence has taken place. Proving causation involves showing that there is a sufficiently connected causal relationship between the conduct of the defendant and the prohibited consequences which occurred. In criminal law, the test for causation is divided into factual and legal causation – each of these elements will be dealt with in turn below.

The second and third sections deal with the doctrine of transferred malice and the thin-skull rule. These rules have largely been applied in the context of homicide and offences against the person. Whilst the thin-skull rule is largely confined to those offences, the principle of transferred malice is applicable more widely within the criminal law to crimes such as property offences


Causation in criminal law can be split into two: factual causation and legal causation.

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Transferred malice

The doctrine of transferred malice allows the defendant’s mens rea towards the intended victim to be transferred to the actual victim.

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Thin skull rule

Under the thin-skull rule, a defendant must take his victim as he finds him including all of the defendant’s physical and emotional characteristics…

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