In the case of Regina v. Faulkner(13 Cox Crim. Cas. 550 (1877)), a sailor was below deck trying to steal some rum. He lit a match to see better, dropped it into the barrel of rum, and started a fire which burned the entire ship.
- The Appellate Court overturned the conviction, saying that in order to constitute an offense, the act done must be in fact intentional and willful in itself. Faulker was intentionally trying to steal some rum, and could be prosecuted for that, but he was not acting recklessly in lighting the match, nor did he intentionally burn the ship.
- Basically, if an accident occurs during the commission of a crime, the defendant is not guilty for the accident, just the crime itself.
- The Appellate Court did not agree with the prosecution’s contention that “the defendant, being engaged in the commission of, or in an attempt to commit a felony, was criminally responsible for every result that was occasioned thereby, even though it was not a probable consequence of his act or such as he could have reasonably foreseen or intended.”
- Should Faulkner, who burned the ship by accident, be subject to the same penalties as someone who burned the ship on purpose?
- The Model Penal Code gives very specific definitions for certain terms to make it easier for courts to interpret Statutes.
- The decision in this case about the level of culpability would probably be the equivalent of criminally negligent under the Model Penal Code.