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Criminal Law E&E Outline - Criminal Law E&E Outline...

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Criminal Law E&E Outline: Ch. 1: The Sources and Limitations of Criminal Law A. Sources of Criminal Law a. Common Law i. This includes statutes, judge-made law, and judicial interpretations of statutes. b. Legislative Sources i. There can be no crime without a statute prohibiting that conduct. c. The MPC d. Constitutional Sources and Limits B. Limitations on Criminal Law a. The principle of legality provides that before individuals can be convicted and punished for engaging in such conduct, it must be legislatively prohibited i. Weaknesses of common law crimes: 1. unless there is a clear precedential case available, an individual could not know beforehand if her contemplated conduct it lawful or criminal. 2. limits on governmental authority are not clear – so that when there is not a clear line b/w permissible and impermissible behavior the government may be able to use its power to punish an individual it sees as its enemy, even if the behavior may have been innocent. ii. Notice of what is a crime is very essential to the criminal law system, and no one can be punished for something there isn’t a law against. iii. Ex Post Facto – legislatures CANNOT enact criminal statutes that criminalize acts that were innocent when done or that increase the severity of the crime or the punishment after the fact. {this ensures fair warning} b. The constitutional doctrine of void for vagueness requires the criminal law to be sufficiently clear so that individuals of ordinary ability can understand what their legal obligations are. i. Ensures that criminal statutes provide fair notice of what behavior is forbidden. c. The rule of lenity requires a court to construe criminal statutes strictly, resolving doubt in favor of the defendant. i. Requires courts to resolve ambiguity in statutory language in favor of the defendant. ii. The MPC says that they should be “construed according to the fair import of their term.” d. Burden of Proof Ch. 2: The Purposes of Punishment A. Defining Punishment B. The Purposes of Punishment 1
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a. Utilitarianism – we should punish criminals only if some “good” is achieved by this act. i. Deterrence 1. this theory holds that punishment reduces crime in two ways: a. criminal can decide not to commit future crimes [SPECIFIC DETERRENCE], or b. other persons, contemplating committing crimes and learning of the threatened punishment, will decide not to do so [GENERAL DETERRENCE]. 2. to be effective the criminal must receive notice of the threatened punishment. 3. the criminal must not only hear the threat of criminal law, but must also hear it accurately (so if D hears the punishment is 3 years and it is actually 5 years, D is less deterred than he should be). 4. the threat must be credible (this requires 2 things): a. the criminal thinks he will be captured; b. criminal believes that if captured, he will be punished as threatened.
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