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CRIMINAL LAW OUTLINE

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Chiara Genovese

on 23 September 2015

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Transcript of CRIMINAL LAW OUTLINE

CRIMES EXIST BECAUSE SOCIETY WANTS TO CONDEMN CERTAIN ACTIONS
NECESSITATES PUNISHMENT - CERTAIN ACTIONS DON'T COMPLY WITH SOCIETY'S EVOLVING STANDARDS OF DECENCY
CRIME = ACT + INTENT
-We punish acts with malicious intents
-Act and Intent are material elements
-Culpable under certain circumstances when result of action is against society's idea of lawful conduct
-MPC and common law look at the elements of crime differently
MPC ELEMENTS
-Included in description of foreign conduct, negates defense, negates justification, establish jurisdiction and establish culpability
PURPOSES FOR PUNISHMENT
-Detterance (specific and general)
-Retribution (non-utilitarian, including communicative retribution, upholds equality)
-Eduction
-Isolation
-Rehabilitation
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION
-Does the statute imply there is something within the circumstance that society deems condemable?
-Definition of terms to determine if a crime was committed
-Some jurisdictions use common law approach and some use MPC
-Expressio unius est exclusio alterus
-General terms viewed in context of surrounding specific terms
-Look to purpose and intent of legislation
CRIMINAL LAW OUTLINE
Necessitates Sentancing
-Based on preponderance of evidence
-Guidelines are advisory (consider
sentances available, other jurisdictions,
wrongfulness of act, degree of harm,
mental state)
-Proportionality
PROPORTIONALITY
8TH AMENDMENT =
No Cruel or Unusual Punishment
-Cruel and unusual is defined by past sentances
-Punishment must fit the crime; based on evolving standards of decency
-California 3 Strikes rule
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
-Roper v. Simmons
-Most severe crime deserves
most severe punishment
-Those under 18 are not as
morally reprehensible
-Diminished culpability does not
justify capital punishment under 8th A
-Detterance not properly served

DIMINISHED CULPABILITY FOLLOWS FROM
(A) THOMPSON; those under 18 dont have
same responsibilities
(B) ATKINS; similar to mental disability,
decreased reasoning capacity
COMMON LAW INTERPRETATION
-Plain meaning
-Previous interpretations hold unless otherwise stated
-What would a person of ordinary intelligence believe
-Past judicial decisions
MODEL PENAL CODE INTERPRETATION
-Specific definition of terms
EXAMPLE: CARJACKING
-Common law defines taking as 'asportation or carrying away'; felonious taking with intent to deprive (stems from robbery)
-MPC defines felonious taking as 'possession and control beyond one's authority'
-MPC considers even slight movements sufficient to establish 'taking'
LENITY
-Idea of narrow interpretation
-If two interpretations are constitutional, choose the one that rules in favour of defendant
Standard For Conviction = Beyond Reasonable Doubt
VAGUENESS DOCTRINE
-Standard: must be clear enough that a person of ordinary intelligence can understand, must put an ordinary person on notice (as per due process of law)
-Court assumes that statute isn't vague and burden of proof falls on defendant (challenged as unconstitutional, against due process)
-Must be specific enough to allow people to steer clear of wrongful acts, prevent arbitrary convictions, and avoid being overbroad and infringing on constitutional rights
FEDERALISM
-There is a division of labour; role of states is to interpret legislation made by Congress
-Take language on its face unless explicited stated otherwise
-Example is arson case; USC says 'used in interstate commerce' must not be interpreted so broadly that makes every arson a federal crime
Common Law Elements: Act, Intent/Mental State, Attendant Circumstances, Causation
-Must have concurrency in all elements and must be voluntary and concious at time of offense
Look to definition of act; Cox case 'operating' means cause to function out of effort (looked at plain meaning of words as per common law and legislative intent in eliminating 'physical control')
-Intoxication does not negate voluntary
ACTUS REUS
-Voluntary act or omission of act for which person is capable; conscious and voluntary
-West case; duty owed by one individual to another where omission of act causes death, makes charegable for manslaughter if duty is a legal one and absence thereof is direct cause of death
Legal Duty To Aid Under Jones Test:
i) Statute imposes duty
ii) Certain relationship
iii) Assumed contractual duty
iv) Voluntary assumed care that
prevents others from aiding
-Moral obligation is not enough unless jurisdiction has 'duty to aid' (unless jeopardizes oneself)
POSSESSION AS ACTUS REUS
-Possession refers to dominion or control
-Possession is voluntary when person knowingly procures act or fails to dispose of in significant time
-Constructive possession only established if there is dominion and control
-Example is Windsor case; involuntary presence at jail is not dispositive because of failure to dispose of; used MPC which states that voluntary if knowingly procures or fails to dispose of in significant time
-Involuntary acts may create liability if they were reasonably foreseeable in the circumstances
-Voluntary often requires dominion and control (ability to exclude others)
-Constructive possession (possession of part equals possession of whole) cannot be proven without proving dominion and de facto control
STATUS OR
CONDITION AS ACTUS REUS
-Rule against punishing a status with no act
-Question of constitutionality; chronic condition continues and subject to arrest at any time before reform, evidenced by characteristic reactions
-In Robinson case, court rules that
making a criminal offense of a disease violated the 8th Amendment and does not serve purposes of punishment, speaks to evolving standards of decency in society because there is diminished culpability, and would be the same as punishing mental instability or insanity
-Rule against punishing a mere status with no act
MENS REA
-Do not look at ultimate objective of the activity but intent and mental state at moment of offense
-Cortes-Caban case illustrates that distribution occurred at moment of 'transfer' and there was intent at that moment even though not ultimate goal, assume intended proscribed outcome as its purpose
COMMON LAW MENS REA
-Common law divides into general and specific intent; general refers to overall intent to perform the act and specific refers to heightened mental state/extra mental state required and intent at specific instance (higher burden of proof)
-Both together help establish culpability but allow for different classifications and burdens of proof
MPC MENS REA
-Categories for mens rea to establish culpability: purposefully and knowingly (highest culpability and relates to specific intent) and recklessly and negligently (relating to general intent)
DEFINITIONS
Purposely = conscious conduct and awareness and desire that action will bring about a specific result
Knowingly = certainty that actions will bring about a specific result
Recklessly = conscious disregard for a risk when risk is a substantial deviation from conduct of lawful individual (substantial and unjustifiable risk)
Negligently = lowest culpability, person should be aware of substantial and unjustifiable risk leading to deviation from ordinary standard of care that a reasonable person would take
-Requirement of knowledge is satisfied by high probability of certainty
-Requirement of willingness satisfied by acting knowingly; willful = knowingly under MPC
CASES
-Vermont case; court ruled that instruction to consider 'knowingly' was irrelevant because acted with purpose to inflict harm when punching victim (purposefully implies knowingly), self-defense is not supported as a defense
-Youts case; new his actions would cause a certain result, new high speeds would cause derailment (look at nature of individual- he had experience with trains)
-Hall case; conscious disregard for substantial unjustifiable risk because he was a ski instructor and was aware his conduct was dangerous
-Larson case; negligence refers to failure to perceive risk, drunk driving with passengers ejected from car, drunk eliminates purposefully or knowingly because of impaired mental state; general intent and negligent act (should have been aware)
WILLFUL BLINDNESS
-Burying head in the sand
-Knowledge enough to know to avoid is the same as knowing, willful blindness is a proper standard of proof
-Refers to taking substantial action against receiving certain knowledge, with high probability of impending knowledge; no difference between actual knowledge and impending knowledge
-Requirements for willful blindness: 1) believe high probability of facts exist and 2) take conscious and deliberate action to avoid learning the facts
-Rice drove with a suspended license but he had reason enough to believe it would be suspended and took substantial action to avoid the knowledge (had his wife open the letters and had experience with prior suspended license)
CONDITIONAL INTENT
-Act is modified by intent, conditional or unconditional
-Holloway case; individual pointed gun and said would shoot if didn't hand over keys to car
-Here, court says conditional intent is still intent; look at intent at the very instance of the offense
-At a relevant moment of resistance, the offender plainly does have the forbidden intent; statute does not say "with harm if necessary"
-Look at state of mind at exact time took control of the vehicle
-Note that lenity only applies when can no longer interpret what congress intended
-Assume person intends the natural and probable consequence of their actions
TRANSFERRED INTENT
-Transferred intent refers to an instance when the intent to harm one individual leads to a second individual being harmed instead (with the same result, in the same manner)
-Mental state is not limited to a pin point but can be extended to more broad scope of individuals
-Fennell case; Fennell shot and killed Thrailkill but stray bullet hit a third party, this was deemed transferred intent
-Mental state of malice was present at the time of the offense and transfer of malicious intent to unintended victims; deterrence is better served by holding the defendant responsible for the knowing murder of the unintended as well as intended
STRICT LIABILITY
-Legislature intended to dispense with mens rea
-Determinants of strict liability: 1) punishment term 2) public welfare service and 3) burden of proof of mens rea is high
-In Nasir case, convicted for possession of counterfeit stamps; court states does not involve public welfare to sufficiently justify strict liability, look at language of statute and rule that it suggests general intent, circumstantial evidence in this case suggests that he know the stamps were counterfeit (came at very low cost)
-Burden of proof on actus reus for strict liability; look to how would a reasonable person behave in the circumstances, actus reus includes possession (knowing procurement)
-Certain crimes contain strict liability elements, example is statutory rape; crime regardless of whether they know age
-MPC distinguishes violations as a type of strict liability offense; these are lower grade offenses that may be upgraded to crimes if intent can be proven; fine or civil penalty authorized upon conviction, not giving rise to legal disadvantage
MISTAKE OF FACT
-Mistake that a reasonable and ordinary person would have made under similar circumstances
-For general intent must be honest and reasonable and for specific intent only needs to be honest, doesn't matter how "unreasonable"
-Example is Contreas case involving 'breaking and entering' into wrong hotel room; paid for a room and no number on his key, court ruled mistake of fact should have been included in instruction
-In Cheek case, we understand that disagreement does not constitute an honest mistake, does not equate to not knowing; believed tax laws were unconstitutional and charged for tax evasion but all are presumed to know the law
-Mistake of law is when one relies on certain statement of law or case law that is later overturned
Elements Of Crime: Causation
-Must prove defendant caused the particular harm as an element of the offense
-Causation has two components: 'cause-in-fact' or 'but for' and proximate or legal cause
-'But' for does not automatically make one liable, it is modified by proximate cause which is the culpability assessment given the law
-Testimony is brought in when causation is unclear
'But For' and Proximate Cause
-'But for': result would not have happened were it not for the actions of the defendant
-Proximate: limits actual causation to what is relevant to the offense, MPC states this as any additional casual requirements imposed by law
-For specific intent (purpose, knowing) causation must be within the purpose of the act
-For general intent causation must only be within apparent risk
-Result must be a probable and foreseeable consequence of action and must follow naturally, directly and as a consequence of the action
-State v. Lane case; individual hit on side of the head and later died of head injuries
-Court looked at involuntary manslaughter as i) unlawful act not amounting to felony or naturally dangerous to human life and ii) culpably negligent act or omission
-No evidence that any other event could have been cause
-Illustrates 'but for' causation
Types of Causes
-Concurrent sufficient cause refers to two causes contributing to the result
-Obstructed cause precludes the initial perpetrator from suffering consequences beyond crime they committed
-Accelerated result refers to multiple people being held liable if individual would have been harmed by first result but was accelerated by second event (caused the result to occur sooner); person dies sooner because of a second event, requires specific proof of when the victim would have originally died
-Here specific proof refers to reasonable medical certainty
Oxendine Case
-This case speaks to acceleration 'but for' cause; but for father's actions the son would not have died so soon
-Father contributed to death of son by not taking him to the hospital after blow to stomach and stomach pains
-Note that aggravation without acceleration is insufficient
-Medical testimony could not conclude that 'caused him to die sooner'; all evidence against defendant must be brought case in chief (wife's medical testimony was not dispositive)
Note: appeals are for
i) insufficiency of evidence
ii) improper jury instruction
Note: definitions are
from MPC, common
law uses case law to rule
but draws from MPC
Lamprey Case
-Illustrates proximate cause
-Let children ride in back of truck and did 'swervies'
-'But for' is satisfied, look to proximate; defendant claims coincidental intervening cause which would eliminate liability
-Proximate cause refers to whether act was sole substantial and predominant cause of the result, result has to follow naturally and as consequence, cannot be possible or contributing factor to result
-Intervening cause is only intervening to negate liability when the cause is the sole substantial cause
-MPC looks to foreseeability of intervening cause; if it is independent of act and unforeseeable then it is sufficient as intervening cause cutting off liability, if it is dependent and reasonably foreseeable then it is not sufficient as intervening cause
-Is it too remote or accidental that it would be unjust to hold the defendant liable
-In this case defendant had been warned multiple times in past
-Car accident involving intoxicated driver that causes individual to be put on life support after the crash, eventually taken off life support
-Court rules removal of life support was not an intervening cause
-Intervening cause results in deviation from natural progress of events, and here, death progressed naturally from the offense
-Intended risk and actual result are not so different that it is unfair to hold the defendant liable
-Removal from life support cannot be seen as unforeseeable in the context of the circumstances; everyone reserves the right to do so
-Jury was instructed: defendant's actions set in motion the victim's need for life support, the casual link between defendant's actions and the death is not broken from the removal of life support
Pelham Case
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