Contributory/Shared Responsibility on Crimes

Perpetration of the crime can not be attributed solely to the offender, the culprit, tort feasor or whatever they may be called. This is the reason why there are crime scene investigations, court litigations, or alternative modes of dispute settlements for purposes of determining liability and culpability. The degree of culpability is measured by taking into account various factors including, but not limited to external forces, participation of the victim or the so-called contributory or shared responsibility, evil motive of the culprit, or the mode of the commission of the crime.

This paper discusses on the contributory or shared responsibility of the victim in the perpetration of the crime. This is an important topic considering that the degree of participation or the degree of culpability of the victim can be something to be considered when determining the amount or nature of penalty to be imposed, the availability of probation, the possibility of enjoying the benefits of parole after having complied with certain conditions imposed by law, court procedure or the release of the offender on bail on the basis of the evidence.

As has been said, the perpetration of the crime is not solely attributable to the offender, a closer look at the participation of the victim is likewise worthy of mention. The degree of participation of victims can be classified as follows: 1. ‘complete innocence’ 2. ‘victim proneness’ 3. ‘victim facilitation’ 4. ‘victim precipitation’ 5. ‘victim provocation’ and 6. ‘victim fabrication. ’

In particular, the paper shall discuss complete innocence and victim fabrication on the degree of participation of victims in a crime. The two are at the extremes involving as they do total absence of participation and absolute culpability placed on the victim. In the first degree of participation, the victim is absolutely blameless. They neither contribute anything that leads the offender to commit the offense nor encourage the perpetration of the same.

That is, absolute culpability can be put on the offender and that there is no way that liability can be reduced except on certain mitigating circumstances not dependent on the participation of the victim; the criminal intent being rooted from the criminal mind of the offender and is the very and only reason for the commission thereof. On the other hand, under victim fabrication, there is really no crime committed and thus no violation of the laws is committed.

The reason for the commission of the incident is solely attributed to the victim; that is, while there is an act committed, there is no criminal and hence, no criminal liability. In Latin terms, absolute criminal responsibility on the part of the offender is by reason of the presence of the element of mens rea. Mens Rea is the criminal intent, the guilty mind; the commission of the crime being attended with the full knowledge of the act’s being absolutely prohibited and the knowledge of its being morally wrong (http://www.

duhaime. org/LegalDictionary/M/Mensrea. aspx, 2008). Seattle Times news reported that one John Price was facing a first degree murder case for having allegedly killed, with the use of an ax handle, his co-member in the motorcycle club, the body of the victim though remained unfound as of the date of the report. Donald Jessup, the victim was allegedly killed in his home at Ravensdale. The killing was perpetrated with the use of an ax handle stricken against the victim.

The accused allegedly shot the victim subsequent thereto causing the latter’s instantaneous death. It has been reported though that investigators have continued collecting DNA samples implicating the accused to the commission of the crime to establish his culpability, thereby allowing prosecution and punishment to follow (http://seattletimes. nwsource. com/html/localnews/2008263501_price14m. html, 2008).

Where evidence of the prosecution is strong sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, verdict may be rendered adjudging the absolutely criminal responsibility of the accused. On the other hand, in the case of victim fabrication, the one committed the wrongful act is completely exonerated, the act being justified. They can be labeled as justifying or absolutory circumstances. A perfect example for this type of shared responsibility is one done in self-defense.

In self-defense, the one who committed the act would not have committed the same where it not for the violent attack of the victim. The wrongful act is being merely a mode of retaliation against the aggressive attack and is therefore justified (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Self_defense_and_defense_of_others, 2008). In this instance, there is neither criminal nor civil liability attached on the offender. The application of the concept of self-defense can be seen in the light of the experiences of battered women, or the so-called battered women syndrome.

They are the constant subject of their husband’s battery which can either be moral, physical, sexual or economic abuse. In a study conducted by Saunders (1986), women who are found to have been suffering from battered women syndrome reported that the reason for the use of violence against their husbands is for self-defense. Criminal prosecution is intended not to convict the offender, or the one who committed the wrongful act, rather, it involves the acquittal of the accused when the circumstances so warrant.

In this regard, it is important to note that criminal jurisprudence is replete with cases where the accused is either absolutely liable, worst is subject to higher penalty or completely exonerated both criminally and civilly due to the non existence of the crime; thereby no crime committed, no criminal liability and likewise civil liability as a consequence; prosecution proceedings not being intended to place accused behind bars but to determine their degree of culpability during the course thereof.


  • Saunders, D (1986). When Battered Women Use Violence: Husband-Abuse or Self-Defense? Springer Publishing Company, p 47-60.
  • No Author. (2008). http://www. duhaime. org/LegalDictionary/M/Mensrea. aspx.
  • Sullivan, J. (2008). http://seattletimes. nwsource. com/html/localnews/2008263501_price14m. html.
  • No Author (2008).