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Unformatted text preview: 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 cant 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, Powells 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 didnt 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. Its the assumption of punishment, so it doesnt matter if its 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. CASES FOR VOLUNTARINESS: State v. Mercer: North Carolina. Facts: Mercer went to his wifes 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, wifes 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 shouldve been allowed as a defense for an acquittal. o Actus Reus : Mercer is saying he didnt 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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