The Limits of Transferred Malice
The article explores two recurring themes in the scholarly writings on ‘transferred malice’ the doctrine designed by Anglo-American law to allow full criminal responsibility where the defendant caused harm to a different object than the one he had in mind, due to either accident or mistake. First, in face of the diversity of views advocating the eradication of transferred malice, the article searches for the provinces in which that doctrine should still have relevance to our legal system. It is often assumed that malice cannot transfer amongst different offences, which has led many scholars to conclude that the doctrine is superfluous. The analysis here offered counters both assumption and conclusion alike, as well as the common view that differentiates between the implications of accident and mistake. Second, reflecting on the different criteria proposed to restrict the implementation of transferred malice such as physical and immediate harm to the actual object, remoteness of the actual harm from the harm intended, and foreseeability as to the actual harm the article provides an analytical framework by which to assess these criteria and to determine which of them proves more persuasive. The result is a notion of transferred malice that strikes a favourable balance with the requirement of mens rea.