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jakemccoy
10-01-2009, 3:01 PM
Here's an awkward application of self-defense that may be analogous to some defensive shooting situations...

A person may use deadly force in self-defense if (i) she is without fault; (ii) she is confronted with "unlawful force"; and (iii) she is threatened with imminent death or great bodily harm.

A criminal ties Monica to railroad tracks against her will. The criminal knows a passenger train is coming soon and tells Monica so. Next to Monica is a lever that can derail the train coming toward Monica. At this point, the ONLY way to save Monica's life is to pull the lever. Monica sees the train coming and pulls the lever. The train derails, killing over 100 passengers. Monica lives.

Is Monica legally liable for the deaths of the passengers on the train? Why or why not?

Are Monica's actions moral? Why or why not?

curtisfong
10-01-2009, 3:04 PM
Sounds like somebody has been reading Dawkins

jakemccoy
10-01-2009, 3:06 PM
No, I haven't, but he sounds interesting. I'll have to check him out.

curtisfong
10-01-2009, 3:09 PM
He covers similar moral dilemmas at the beginning of "The God Delusion" in the attempt to decouple universal moral values from organized religion.

Warning: if you are religious, you may find the book insulting.

RedMongooSe
10-01-2009, 3:10 PM
the people on the train did nothing to her, a third party tied her up. so its a hard one.

curtisfong
10-01-2009, 3:10 PM
Also, see this article

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlberg's_stages_of_moral_development

Glock22Fan
10-01-2009, 3:11 PM
The only value I see in this scenario is to posit that it mirrors the situation where Monica is in a fix and has a gun, fires to save her life and injures some innocent bystander(s).

If this is the case, why not say so instead of making up such an unlikely scenario?

I believe that in some jurisdictions, Monica would be protected by laws saying that "blue on blue" is the bad guy's fault, not Monica's, but I think (and I could be wrong) that in California it would have to be decided in the court.

CSACANNONEER
10-01-2009, 3:11 PM
AFAIK, Monica doesn't pull levers she just ......... them.

djleisure
10-01-2009, 3:13 PM
AFAIK, Monica doesn't pull levers she just ......... them.
No, no, you're thinking of Lucy (that's why we all call her loose.)

jakemccoy
10-01-2009, 3:14 PM
The only value I see in this scenario is to posit that it mirrors the situation where Monica is in a fix and has a gun, fires to save her life and injures some innocent bystander(s).

If this is the case, why not say so instead of making up such an unlikely scenario?

That's a thought, but I think the facts here are simpler and more absolute to discuss a broader principle.

You're welcome to start your own thread.

andalusi
10-01-2009, 3:17 PM
Is Monica legally liable for the deaths of the passengers on the train? Why or why not?

Are Monica's actions moral? Why or why not?

Legally? No, she was acting in self-defense. The presumably mustachioed villain bears liability here.

Morally? Tricky as the choice is between suicide and intentional homicide. If we are speaking of a moral context within any of the Abrahamic religions, then poor Monica is in a quandary as both of her options are mortal sins. Though a curious result of the concept of atoning for sins is that Monica is better off choosing to kill off the passengers: she can repent and ask for forgiveness for her choice, permitting her entry into the good place rather than the hot place.

Operating outside of the religious domain, it's still no less tricky. I think I would probably side with not having moral liability as really, the criminal is the agent of death here. Monica is essentially an extension of his will and not a voluntary actor.

Warning: if you are religious, you may find the book insulting.

I think there's no maybe about it! But even as a believer, I find Dawkins an entertaining and enlightening read.

curtisfong
10-01-2009, 3:18 PM
More interesting reading that mentions the train dilemma from a neuroscience point of view:

http://psom.blogspot.com/2006/01/neuroeconomics-pleasure-of-other.html

djleisure
10-01-2009, 3:25 PM
Oh and to actually add something to the thread, I doubt Monica could be convicted on a criminal charge. I think it could be argued that she was in imminent fear of her life and that she was not "thinking about the consequences of her actions" or something to that effect. It could also be argued that she didn't know ANY passengers were on that train (except the conductor) and that either she was absolutely going to die, or by her actions she could save her life and the other people/person on that train might get injured.

A civil lawsuit would be another story...

berto
10-01-2009, 3:26 PM
She preserved her own life.

We can debate the morality of saving oneself at the cost of another or 100 or 1,000,000 but that really comes down to how selfless we think others should be and perhaps where we draw the line for self sacrifice.

What if Monica decides not to flip the switch and the engineer hits the brakes and the train derails killing Monica and the same number of people?

curtisfong
10-01-2009, 3:26 PM
btw i voted not legally or morally liable, since the criminal is liable.

The question is, what if it wasn't a criminal? What if she tripped and fell on the tracks, and was immobile from the fall?

jakemccoy
10-01-2009, 3:32 PM
btw i voted not legally or morally liable, since the criminal is liable.

The question is, what if it wasn't a criminal? What if she tripped and fell on the tracks, and was immobile from the fall?

For self-defense to be valid, the force must be unlawful.

In the original scenario, the unlawful force is the criminal tying her up knowing a train was coming with the combination of the train actually coming. Thus, I said that Monica is not legally liable for the deaths.

In your scenario, there doesn't appear to be an unlawful force. Thus, Monica is legally liable for the deaths.

blacksheep
10-01-2009, 3:32 PM
Self preservation, nuff said.

curtisfong
10-01-2009, 3:40 PM
In your scenario, there doesn't appear to be an unlawful force. Thus, Monica is legally liable for the deaths.

Ah yes, but that is strictly Kolhberg Stage 4 (authority and social order obedience driven).

How would use use Level 3 (stage 5/6 - social contracts/universal ethics) to evaluate her actions?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlberg's_stages_of_moral_development#Post-Conventional

Maestro Pistolero
10-01-2009, 4:24 PM
Her death was imminent, but a train derailment (assuming it had passengers, which she could not know) isn't necessarily lethal. She's in the clear.

E-T
10-01-2009, 4:34 PM
That's a real toughie, how could she have known so many lives were to be lost? However, the criminal can still just leave her to die...

Lone_Gunman
10-01-2009, 6:05 PM
Does Monica have a radio to contact the dispatcher or a key to the big a**ed padlock that will be securing the de-rail lever if it is not remotely controlled by a dispatcher?
I'm just askin'.

Foghlai
10-01-2009, 6:13 PM
For most criminal actions in order for her to be liable she would have had to had intent. Under extreme duress actions made towards self-preservation are considered involuntary and thus cannot be intended. I would say no legal liability and the moral question would be something she would have to decide herself.

Meplat
10-01-2009, 6:52 PM
Monica has the right of self preservation. The rest of your hypothetical arguments are Bull ****.

jakemccoy
10-01-2009, 7:36 PM
The idea of self-preservation may excuse Monica from moral liability.

However, I think ordinary self-defense is what excuses Monica from legal liability here.

CaliforniaLiberal
10-01-2009, 7:50 PM
Monica has no right to preserve her life at the expense of other's edit(lives) who are innocent. If she were drowning, would she have the right to climb pull another off of a piece of floating wood to take it as her own life saver? Could she steal a healthy kidney from someone else to save her own life? Could she murder and eat an innocent person to save her life if she were starving?

She has a right to save her life at the expense of another who is trying to kill her. Not as revenge against the would be murderer but to stop him from killing her.

The right to self defense is not a right to take someone else's life but a right to stop them absolutely from taking yours.

CL

jakemccoy
10-01-2009, 8:01 PM
Monica has no right to preserve her life at the expense of others who are innocent.

I don't agree with that statement as you wrote it. What do you mean by "at the expense of others"? Everything you do is going to affect others at some level. Are you saying that, morally, you can't do anything that adversely affects others in order to save your life? Did you mean to write "at the expense of killing others"?

If she were drowning, would she have the right to climb pull another off of a piece of floating wood to take it as her own life saver?

From a moral standpoint, I say yes because the person on the floating wood may be capable of swimming just fine. She doesn't know. From a legal standpoint, I highly doubt she's excused from all liability because there is no unlawful force at play. By the way, you didn't say if anybody died.

In the original scenario, as someone else pointed out, Monica does not know for certain that passengers are going to die if she derails the train. However, Monica does know that she is going to die if the train keeps coming. Meanwhile, there's that whole thing of an unlawful force that placed her in the situation.

yellowfin
10-01-2009, 8:18 PM
I would say no liability on her at all, as the loss of the lives is less than 100% foreseeable, whereas her own impending death is. The train could derail but it's possible no one would die, maybe only a few or many injuries. Absolute vs. relative risk is in play here.

redbull addict
10-01-2009, 8:27 PM
Monica did not have the intent to kill anyone (how could a reasonable person know what kind of train is coming, how many passengers are on board, how many MAY die) unlike the example that someone gave saying they would eat someone or steal a kidney for self preservation. Those circumstances are VERY different.

djm315
10-01-2009, 8:40 PM
if she was able to identify the criminal , he would be legally liable , due to the deaths caused while in the act of a felony(kidnap, attempted murder) . self preservation itself i do not believe to be immoral .

11Z50
10-01-2009, 9:01 PM
In the PRK, transferred intent applies, so the crook is on the hook for the deaths of those poor folks on the train since he committed a felony in the process.

Codelphious
10-01-2009, 9:17 PM
The scariest thing about this question is that not everyone came to the exact same conclusion.

There is no moral dilemma here. There is no guarantee that any people will die when the train is derailed. There is also no evidence that supports that the train is occupied. Would you take a psychopathic kidnapping murder at his word?

The ONLY decision is to pull the lever and pray no one is hurt.

The conclusion that 100 people die is irrelevant to the decision. It's merely a distraction. For example, what if I supposed that Monica was a doctor and that her pulling the lever meant that she lived and ended up saving over 1000 lives with her practice? Does that change the morality of the question? Absolutely not! The question is simple: are you willing to let yourself be murdered (yes/no)?

JTecalo
10-01-2009, 9:54 PM
if she was able to identify the criminal , he would be legally liable , due to the deaths caused while in the act of a felony(kidnap, attempted murder) . self preservation itself i do not believe to be immoral .

I go with this.

The guy that tied her to the track created the scenario. He's guilty.

GW
10-01-2009, 11:19 PM
No legal or moral liability
She'll probably get sued anyway

jakemccoy
10-01-2009, 11:24 PM
The scariest thing about this question is that not everyone came to the exact same conclusion.

That is scary. It shows that trial lawyers need substantial skills beyond book knowledge. Being technically correct on an issue is not nearly good enough when a jury is involved. The lawyer has to soften up the two or three jurors that will be holding strong to the other side.

lioneaglegriffin
10-01-2009, 11:37 PM
what kind of derailment kills 100 people? did it go of a f'n cliff?

curtisfong
10-02-2009, 1:00 AM
It seems to me most of you are missing the point. It isn't an actual situation; its supposed to be a question with an ambiguous answer.

ASSUME the victim knows all 100 will die by her actions. Replace the train by any other mechanism such that that is true. Remove the "criminal" if you like. Use your imagination. Should you knowingly kill 100 innocent people to save yourself?

The more astute readers will have read the Kohlberg link carefully. Again, the point of Kohlberg's levels/stages isn't to tell you whats right or wrong. What it does is classify *which set of rules* you, personally, use to distinguish right from wrong.

MP301
10-02-2009, 3:47 AM
This is not clear cut and dried. It depends on a couple of things....

First, no matter what happens, the BG is going to be responsible for whomever dies regardless of how it happens.

Second, legally, if the victim knew or should have known, that throwing the switch would most likely kill one or more people, then unfortunately she would technically be criminally liable under the law in most, if not all jurisdictions

In other words, lets say a BG has your wife and kids hostage and tells you he will kill them unless you take this gun and go rob XYZ bank. Go rob the bank. Your in the clear. However, if he tells you to go shoot soem guy named bob or he will kill your family, then understand that you are criminally liable. Your families life or even your own, self preservation or not, will not be considered more valuable then bobs life.

If your robbing the bank and someone gets shot, however unintential you might want it to be, your criminally liable because there is no way to say that some other poor saps life is worth less then your families.

Now if the Victim in the OPs scenario had no way of knowing that it was a passenger train, etc...and was just trying to keep the train from killing her, liability will be less or non existant.

Morally liable? If she knew she would kill 100 people? What makes her life more important then 100 other lives? Maybe her entire family was on the train...or your family or whatever? Hard to say...

B Strong
10-02-2009, 5:30 AM
Monica has the right of self preservation. The rest of your hypothetical arguments are Bull ****.

Amen.

CnCFunFactory
10-02-2009, 10:50 AM
Somebody is watching the "Saw" movies a little too much...:nuts:

curtisfong
10-02-2009, 11:50 AM
Somebody is watching the "Saw" movies a little too much...:nuts:

Not at all. These moral/philosophical questions predate such vapid silliness by millennia. IMO it is important to know where you lie when it comes to how you decide moral questions.

AndrewMendez
10-02-2009, 11:53 AM
I would rather save the lives of 100 people! Why are you guys being so selfish? If it was the Zombie Apocalypse and everyone is on there own, then that's another story!

curtisfong
10-02-2009, 11:57 AM
I would rather save the lives of 100 people!

Oh, I know what I'd like to think what i would do :D

What I would actually do is another question. How I would judge somebody else who made that decision is yet another.

Scratch705
10-02-2009, 12:02 PM
i'm a selfish bastard and i would knowingly do something that would cause the deaths of millions to save myself. cause in my mind, they are all strangers, just names on a paper. who is to say their lives are worth more than mine?

btw this is also similar to how car insurance plays out. if someone rear ends you, then causing you to rear end someone else, it is not your fault, it is the fault of the person who started the first hit that created the chain reaction.

curtisfong
10-02-2009, 12:05 PM
i'm a selfish bastard and i would knowingly do something that would cause the deaths of millions to save myself

What would dissuade you, or cause you to act otherwise? Threat of punishment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlberg's_stages_of_moral_development#Pre-Conventional)?

CaliforniaLiberal
10-02-2009, 12:43 PM
I don't know Kohlberg from a hole in the ground. Perhaps I should.

Monica's responsibility not to murder fellow human beings is not changed by the fact that her life is in danger.

The fact that her life was put in danger against her will does not relieve her of this responsibility.

The one hundred people on the train are oblivious to Monica's peril and are innocent.

It is immoral for her to cause the death of others even to save herself.

If the one hundred people on the train are pointing guns at Monica and knowingly threatening her life she has the right and duty to defend her self even at the risk of killing those threatening her. Once they no longer pose a threat then she is obliged to no longer try to kill them. If throwing the switch and derailing the train is the best way to defend herself against knowing aggressors then certainly she should throw the switch.


Scratch75 isn't the willingness to murder millions of innocent lives judged as the greatest evil in our society? Aren't the most reviled leaders in our history hated for their willingness to slaughter countless strangers and then to make speeches justifying themselves?

And rather than car insurance, I think the correct comparison would be that if someone rear ended you and then you felt free to gun your engine and deliberately smash into the school bus in front of you sending it over a cliff to flaming death. Monica has a free choice to derail the oncoming train or not, she's not in a chain reaction collision.

Are there no circumstances where you would risk your life to save a stranger?

CL

jakemccoy
10-02-2009, 12:53 PM
If throwing the switch and derailing the train is the best way to defend herself against knowing aggressors then certainly she should throw the switch.

I view the train coming as being a part of the unlawful actions of the criminal who tied her to the tracks. The criminal knows the train is coming soon and tells Monica so. Monica is responding, in self-defense, to the criminals actions, and the train coming is part of the criminal's actions. Also, derailing the train is the ONLY way to save Monica's life according to the facts in the original post. Monica does not know for certain if anybody will die from the train derailment. I don't think that matters for legal liability anyway. Moral liability is the tougher one here.

Scratch705
10-02-2009, 1:10 PM
What would dissuade you, or cause you to act otherwise? Threat of punishment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlberg's_stages_of_moral_development#Pre-Conventional)?

I don't know Kohlberg from a hole in the ground. Perhaps I should.

Monica's responsibility not to murder fellow human beings is not changed by the fact that her life is in danger.

The fact that her life was put in danger against her will does not relieve her of this responsibility.

The one hundred people on the train are oblivious to Monica's peril and are innocent.

It is immoral for her to cause the death of others even to save herself.

If the one hundred people on the train are pointing guns at Monica and knowingly threatening her life she has the right and duty to defend her self even at the risk of killing those threatening her. Once they no longer pose a threat then she is obliged to no longer try to kill them. If throwing the switch and derailing the train is the best way to defend herself against knowing aggressors then certainly she should throw the switch.


Scratch75 isn't the willingness to murder millions of innocent lives judged as the greatest evil in our society? Aren't the most reviled leaders in our history hated for their willingness to slaughter countless strangers and then to make speeches justifying themselves?

And rather than car insurance, I think the correct comparison would be that if someone rear ended you and then you felt free to gun your engine and deliberately smash into the school bus in front of you sending it over a cliff to flaming death. Monica has a free choice to derail the oncoming train or not, she's not in a chain reaction collision.

Are there no circumstances where you would risk your life to save a stranger?

CL

to answer both, i am not sure what can make me change my mind. sure the passengers that will die are innocents, but who is to judge that their lives are worth more than mine? once you get into judging how much each person is worth that will go down a slippery slope.

are you willing to die complete strangers? let your spouse die or your children die?

as for comparing me to those dictators that killed millions, they weren't tied to a train rail. they did it for their own power. i am only choosing to save my life in a situation that presents no other alternative. sure it is immoral to let others die for my sake, but it is not illegal. at most i would get negligent manslaughter if the criminal that tied me wasn't found, but if he/she was, the most i will get is living the rest of my life with the burden of their deaths on me. no jury in the world would convict someone who was put against their will that then caused the deaths of other into jail, especially if the real criminal is caught.

Mulay El Raisuli
10-10-2009, 6:28 AM
Legally, I think Monica is covered. She didn't set up the situation, so she ain't responsible for what happens. Add that "derailment" isn't "100 will die" necessarily & trying to convict her is a long-odds game that I don't see a DA even attempting.

Morally? It wouldn't be (as mentioned above) suicide so much as sacrifice for her to just wait for the train to kill her. Under the Judeo-Christian ethic, sacrificing oneself to save others is noble, not suicidal. "Greater love hath no man...." & all that. We give the Medal of Honor to guys who jump on grenades, do we not?

OTOH, watching a train coming right at you is a scary thing. To flinch (ie, pull the lever) isn't a sin either.

The Raisuli

paratroop
10-10-2009, 9:17 AM
what if monica doesnt pull the lever, but the train derails because of the grease slick her carcass makes along the tracks, and kills all aboard. would the families of the deceased be able to bring a civil suit against monica's estate?

jakemccoy
10-10-2009, 12:45 PM
what if monica doesnt pull the lever, but the train derails because of the grease slick her carcass makes along the tracks, and kills all aboard. would the families of the deceased be able to bring a civil suit against monica's estate?

LOL...

But seriously, she's even less responsible for that situation. The criminal put the "grease" on the track, not Monica. She had nothing to do with the act, neither intentionally nor negligently.

dwtt
10-10-2009, 4:10 PM
I think Monica should have applied for a CCW or at least carry a folding knife. That way she would be able to shoot the criminal or cut herself loose with the knife.
The only time I can be abstract is when dealing with chemistry and physics.

Carnivore
10-11-2009, 12:18 AM
Some one can't wait for the next installment of SAW to come out an came up with this to pass the time.

leelaw
10-11-2009, 12:24 AM
It would be murder committed by Monica and her captor.

There are some crimes which are excusable when done under duress, but murder, even under threat of your own murder, is not one.

bigstick61
10-11-2009, 1:04 AM
I would say she is definitely morally liable; legally I'm not certain, although I think she should be to some extent. Selfishly killing 100 innocents, even if your position is the result of malice by another, is still murder as I see it. If the choice is between self-sacrifice or killing 100 innocent people, I think the choice is rather obvious, morally speaking. She should have not pulled the lever and done her best to escape, whether it was possible or not.

MrSigmaDOT40
10-11-2009, 1:29 AM
Monica should have had a gun so she didn't get tied up in the first place. But maybe Monica was from California.

locosway
10-11-2009, 10:00 AM
This is interesting. Obviously, she can save herself. Morally and legally she can preserve her own life. The dilemma comes only when faced with the death of others.

Now, if the train derails, there's no guarantee of death. The train could be empty or could derail in a non violent manner.

On the other hand, there is the potential for mass loss of life instead of just one person.

So, there's a huge decision to make. Does one sacrifice themselves to save others? If it was me, I wouldn't derail the train if it was a passenger train. I couldn't stand the thought of hurting any kids. Freight trains on the other hand, I'd derail it.

USAFTS
10-11-2009, 11:14 AM
I don't know Kohlberg from a hole in the ground. Perhaps I should.

Monica's responsibility not to murder fellow human beings is not changed by the fact that her life is in danger.

The fact that her life was put in danger against her will does not relieve her of this responsibility.

The one hundred people on the train are oblivious to Monica's peril and are innocent.

It is immoral for her to cause the death of others even to save herself.

If the one hundred people on the train are pointing guns at Monica and knowingly threatening her life she has the right and duty to defend her self even at the risk of killing those threatening her. Once they no longer pose a threat then she is obliged to no longer try to kill them. If throwing the switch and derailing the train is the best way to defend herself against knowing aggressors then certainly she should throw the switch.


Scratch75 isn't the willingness to murder millions of innocent lives judged as the greatest evil in our society? Aren't the most reviled leaders in our history hated for their willingness to slaughter countless strangers and then to make speeches justifying themselves?

And rather than car insurance, I think the correct comparison would be that if someone rear ended you and then you felt free to gun your engine and deliberately smash into the school bus in front of you sending it over a cliff to flaming death. Monica has a free choice to derail the oncoming train or not, she's not in a chain reaction collision.

Are there no circumstances where you would risk your life to save a stranger?

CL

Wrong. At the time when it became hypothetically necessary to throw the switch, the threat was NOT the bad guy or the "possible" passengers aboard the train, or an earthquake or swine-flu. The active threat was the oncoming train. One would be forced, at that point, to either to stop the threat or not to stop the threat. The number of possible factors in the decision making process are infinite and would be processed differently by every single person.

Legally: (in this scenario) The badguy would be responsible for the outcome.

Morally: The "switch thrower" would have to come their own peace with the decision.

As far as "Monica's responsibility not to murder fellow human beings is not changed by the fact that her life is in danger. The fact that her life was put in danger against her will does not relieve her of this responsibility."

WRONG - As soon as "Monica's" life is unlawfully placed in danger (as per this scenario), her response becomes "defense of self or others" and NOT murder. The BG gets the murder wrap for each death.

AND Yes, "Monica" WAS (in this scenario) the middle car in the chain reaction.

As far as myself: "Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six"

bigstick61
10-11-2009, 11:22 AM
Killing innocents to save your own life, if it is not murder, is the next worst thing to murder, from a moral perspective; the only reason why it might be less than murder is that she does not know for absolute certain that those people will die or that that many will die. The moral imperative becomes self-sacrifice so others do not die, the way I see it. The criminal of course bears responsibility as well for the final outcome, regardless of which way it goes.

Asphodel
10-11-2009, 12:35 PM
11Z50,

Do you know of any cases in which the concept of 'transferred intent' was upheld?

I have some vague memories of news stories of one or another punk small-time criminal who was involved in some sort of robbery being charged with murder, under 'transferred intent' when his accomplice, another punk, was killed by police.

I don't know whether I'm even remembering this correctly, but I remember thinking that the concept of 'transferred intent' was a clearly unconstitutional 'legal fiction' at best, in the case of a murder charge under such circumstances.

The concept of 'transferred intent' would demonstrate an absence of actual premeditation, at the least, creating a fraudulent charge, if first-degree murder was alleged. At worst, that concept could result in a capital charge for someone who was not even readily able to have actually committed a homicide, given the circumstances of a particular incident.

(just for clarity, I'm not saying that a punk criminal who was engaged in committing an armed robbery should not be tried on a charge of armed robbery. My memory is really vague, the now, but if I remember, in that instance, the punk was not armed, or 'armed' with some sort of dummy weapon, or some such, but was charged with 'first degree murder' under 'transferred intent'.)

This was in the news some years ago.....does anyone remember the case, and the disposition of the case?

cheers

Carla

socal2310
10-11-2009, 2:10 PM
PC Section 26 All persons are capable of committing
crimes except those belonging to the following classes:
One--Children under the age of 14, in the absence of clear
proof that at the time of committing the act charged against
them, they knew its wrongfulness.
Two--Persons who are mentally incapacitated.
Three--Persons who committed the act or made the omission
charged under an ignorance or mistake of fact, which disproves
any criminal intent.
Four--Persons who committed the act charged without being
conscious thereof.
Five--Persons who committed the act or made the omission
charged through misfortune or by accident, when it appears that
there was no evil design, intention, or culpable negligence.
Six--Persons (unless the crime be punishable with death) who
committed the act or made the omission charged under threats or
menaces sufficient to show that they had reasonable cause to and
did believe their lives would be endangered if they refused.

Morally liable in my opinion but legally innocent according to the California Penal Code. The section in parenthesis can be ignored since the bare act of murder is no longer punishable by death in California, even if she knew the action was guaranteed to result in the death of every person aboard the train. Any special circumstances that would enhance the penalty are applicable only to Monica's assailant, not Monica herself.

Ryan

socal2310
10-11-2009, 2:24 PM
Carla,

I don't know of any such crimes prosecuted under the principle of transferred intent. On the other hand, California (in addition to several other states) does have the felony murder rule which basically says that all principals in the commission of a felony are equally culpable for any deaths that occur, including the death of one of the principals (a principal that turns states evidence becomes an accomplice which is why often only the gunman is prosecuted for murder if an innocent person is killed).

Ryan