A construction worker is working in a bldg. His conduct caused the death of W, who was hit on the head by a crowbar while walking by the bldg. 1. X deliberately dropped the heavy crowbar so...

A construction worker is working in a bldg. His conduct caused the death of W, who was hit on the head by a crowbar while walking by the bldg.

1. X deliberately dropped the heavy crowbar so as to hit W on the head.

2. X did not want to kill anybody but wanted to see the people scatter when he dropped the crowbar to the sidewalk.

3. X threw the crowbar at another worker in a fight, but missed. The crowbar fell, killing W on the sidewalk below.

4. X came to work drunk and accidentally pushed the crowbar off the edge of the building.

Assuming a jurisdiction uses the mental fault classification similar to that suggested by the Model Penal Code, what crimes, if any, could X be charged with in each of these examples? What arguments are available to X based on his degree of mental fault?

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Based on your information (which is quite limited), I believe, as a prosecutor, I would charge X with the following:

1)  First degree murder - shows premeditation and intent.  The only mitigating factor might be his motive, which is not provided.  If the motive was revenge, material gain, promotion, etc.  Definitely first degree murder.

2)  A number of possibilities and would depend on the prosecutor.  Since there was malicious intent (to see people scatter - because they were endangered) but it was not directed at any one person, they may be charged with involuntary manslaughter, a civil case of wrongful death may be pursued instead or in addition.

3)  Same as number two, almost exactly, along with assault with a deadly weapon against the first man, and perhaps attempted murder.

4)  Voluntary manslaughter, much as a drunk driver would be charged with.  The "voluntary" part being coming to work drunk in an environment likely to cause harm.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

These answers are, of course, speculative because of the small amount of information available.  But generally speaking, the charges would be:

  1. Either first or second degree murder.  This would depend on when X decided to do this to W.  Did he know that W would be there and bring the crowbar up deliberately or did he see W and decide on the spur of the moment.
  2. Involuntary manslaughter .  He is just being really reckless, but not meaning to kill.
  3. Either involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide.  Again, no intent to kill, but he acted in ways likely to cause death.
  4. Negligent homicide.  Because he came to work drunk and put himself in a situation that was likely to cause harm to others.