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Criminal Law Outline
Sources of Criminal Law
English common law
Model penal code
Proving guilt at a trial
Right to a trial by jury: Under the Sixth Amendment, “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.
Burden of proof: A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent. The State must prove the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jury nullification: Is not a right given by the Constitution. It is power that the jury possesses to nullify the law. Because (1) a jury returns a general verdict; they do not have to justify their verdict; (2) the Fifth Amendment protects a defendant from “double jeopardy”
Purposes of Punishment
Deterrence: general and specific
People v. Du
An ‘eye for an eye’
Constitutional Limits on Criminal Law
First amendment: Congress shall make no law….abridging the freedom of speech.
Second amendment: the right of the people to keep and bear arms
Fourth amendment: the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures
Eighth Amendment: cruel and unusual punishment [shall not be] inflicted
Fourteenth Amendment: Due Process Clause -> states not only guarantee procedural fairness to criminal defendants, but also to respect substantive principles of justice
Burden of proof - on the govt in criminal cases
Standard of proof - beyond a reasonable doubt
Principle of legality - nullum crimen sine lege, nulla poena sine lege
No retroactive expansion/application of criminal laws
Compare: ex post facto (legislative), Art. I, Sections 9,10 of the Constitution.
Void for Vagueness Doctrine
Minimum guidelines to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of the laws
Inhibits exercise of 1st amendment rights
Rule of Strict construction/doctrine of lenity(p 113): statutory interpretation in favor of the defendant and against the government.
Statutes in pari materia
Principle of legality v ex post facto (how are they different)
Ex post facto applies to legislative
No retroactive creation or expansion of crimes
Principle of legality applies to judicial branch
No retroactive creation or expansion of crimes
Elements of a Crime
Actus Reus - Acts and Omissions
The criminal act Voluntary act or failure to act w/ legal duty
Failure to act: a legal duty and the failure to do so
MPC Under 2.01: Voluntary Act or Omission to Perform an Act of which the Actor is Physically Capable
Voluntary: not reflexive, volitional, compare: intentional, deliberate, purposeful OR legal duty
Statute: if a statute tells one that they have legal duty to help
Example: hit someone with a car dont leave or hit and run
Status: relationship status
Creation of risk
Assumption of duty
Example: lifeguard, security guard
If you assume the duty you have to finish it
All crimes have an actus reus, but not all crimes have a mens rea
Mens Rea - State of Mind
MPC SECTION 2.02 - Four mental States for Criminal Culpability
Purposely (aka intentionally) - conscious object to engage in conduct of the nature or to cause such a result and if the element involves attendant circumstances, is are of their existence or believes or hopes those circumstances exist
Knowingly - aware that his conduct is of that nature or that such circumstances exist and if the element involves a result of his conduct
Knowledge of high probability
Willful blindness = knowingly (same rule under the common law)
Recklessly - consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk. (subjective standard) the actors conduct involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct a law-abiding person would observe in the actor’s situation
Negligently - when the actor should be aware of a substantial and justifiable risk. (objective standard) the actor’s failure.
General v specific intent
General intent - the intent to commit the actus reus of the crime; for general intent crimes it is assumed under the common law that the intent is purposefully or knowingly
Specific intent - any additional mental state required for the crime
Intoxication can be a defense
Not all crimes have attended circumstances but burglary does
Arson (general intent)
Malicious (intentionally or recklessly)
Battery (general intent)
Actual - but for, factual
Proximate - legal foreseeability
Strict Liability Offenses - Generally, Two Types:
Public welfare offenses - Malum Prohibitum (it’s wrong because we said so)
Ex: Traffic Regulations, Building Codes, Food and Drug Regulations, Liquor Sales
Common Law Partial Strict Liability Crimes - Malum in Se (wrong because they are inherently wrong)
These are partial liability crimes because they are missing a mens rea
For felony murder there is no intent for the murder occurring because of the felony
For statutory rape there is no intent for the age
*Just because the statute does not directly state which kind of mens rea is required for a crime, then one must use the common law*
In order to have causation you MUST have both elements.
But for the action, the result would not have occurred
Acceleration - both acts are causes in fact of the harm
Substantial factor test - either act alone causes the harm. Each act is a cause in fact of the harm
Examine foreseeability of consequence.
Intervening causes - do NOT break the causal connection between the actor’s conduct and the resulting harm
Ordinary negligence = intervening
Superceding causes - do break the...
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Includes crimes and constitutional law limitations. ...
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