Dependent Intervening Cause
A cause is something that produces an effect or result. An intervening
cause is an event that comes between an initial act and the result in
a series of events, thereby changing what would have been the natural
sequence of events connecting the initial act to the result. A dependent
intervening cause is something that was intended, reasonably foreseeable
or sufficiently related to the defendant's initial act(s).
For example, if Ed pulls a woman into his car and tells her he is going
to rape her, but she jumps out of the car and sustains serious injuries,
her jumping out of the car is a dependent intervening cause (That a person
threatened with rape would try to escape is foreseeable). If the fact
finder (judge or jury) determines that something that happened after the
defendant's act, but before the victim's injury is a dependent
intervening cause, it can find that the defendant's act was the proximate
cause of the victim's injuries (i.e., but for Ed pulling the victim
into the car, she would not have suffered her injuries).
A dependent intervening cause does not break the chain of causation between
the defendant's act and the victim's injury and therefore is not
available as defense. The defendant can be held criminally responsible.
On the other hand, if the fact finder determines that something was an
independent intervening cause (also called a
superseding cause), the defendant will not be held criminally responsible. Although he puts
the chain of events in motion, something intervenes that is unexpected
For example, if Ed injures Joe, which results in Joe going to the emergency
department, and while there, Joe is shot and killed, Joe's being shot is an
independent intervening cause. Ed would not be responsible for Joe's death, even though Joe would
not have been in the emergency department if Ed had not caused his initial injury.