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Dix CrimLaw Outline - ELEMENTS OF A CRIMINAL OFFENSE(Act...

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ELEMENTS OF A CRIMINAL OFFENSE: [(Act + State of mind)---causation- Results]+Attendant  circumstances=Liability I.  ACTS REQUIRED: A.  REQUIREMENT OF VOLUNTARINESS: Robinson v. California:   SCOTUS case.   HOLDING:  You can’t convict someone for status or propensity.  There must be an act for a crime. POWELL v. TEXAS  (1968, after Robinson): Facts:  Alcoholic is arrested for being drunk in public.  At trial,  Powell’s defense has a psychiatrist testify that alcoholism is a disease  that clouds judgment.  “Desire to drink is not overpowering, but an  exceedingly strong influence.” o Powell testified that he had one drink that morning of the court  appearance, but then stopped drinking to be sober for court! NOTE: Prosecutor and defense used this case as a set up.  The  prosecutor didn’t really even try this case.   HOLDING: Conviction stands.  Voluntariness is an issue for the  states, not for the court.  States decide what constitutes it. REASONING:  We have a common law tradition of free will.   It’s the  assumption of punishment, so it doesn’t matter if it’s true.  The Court  seems to be interested in leaving the question of criminal  responsibility up to the state governments.   Justices do not want the role of deciding criminal responsibility for the  entire nation. STATE DEFINITIONS OF VOLUNTARY ACTIVITY: Model Penal Code definition: (p.158)  Section 2.01: Requirement of  Voluntary Act; Omission as basis of liability; Possession as an act o Texas Statute (1.07): No clear definition of what is a voluntary  act.  The only way to know is to go and look up online what a  voluntary act is.
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CASES FOR VOLUNTARINESS: State v. Mercer:   North Carolina. Facts: Mercer went to his wife’s house after she wrote him a letter  ending the marriage.  Mercer got his effects including a gun from her.  He went back to another house, had a drink, and then went to the  house and killed his wife, wife’s friend, and child. o Judge allows evidence of unconsciousness to go to the jury, but  it can only be used to consider the charge of first-degree  murder. HOLDING:  Court rules that unconsciousness should’ve been allowed  as a defense for an acquittal.   o Actus Reus : Mercer is saying he didn’t commit the act of  murder because he was unconscious, and therefore the act was  involuntary.   o Finding Mr. Mercer unconscious would have acquitted him of  all murder.
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