Criminal Law Outline final

Criminal Law Outline final - Criminal Law Outline Spring...

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Criminal Law Outline Spring 2006 Professor Feldman ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A CRIME 1. Actus Reus (guilty act) a. Physical Act For there to be criminal liability, the defendant must have either performed a voluntary physical act or failed to act under circumstances imposing a legal duty to act. Acts that are reflexive, convulsions, performed while unconscious, or otherwise involuntary, are insufficient, as are mere bad thoughts unaccompanied by action. b. Omission to Act Criminal liability can be imposed on a defendant for an omission to act where (1) there is a legal duty to act and (2) the defendant can physically perform the act. Such a legal duty to act may arise in the following ways: (1) by statue (failure to file a tax return); (2) by contract (failure of a lifeguard, a nurse, or a guide on a hiking trip to rescue); (3) where there is a pre-existing dependency (a parent for a child, a spouse for a spouse); (4) where a voluntary undertaking is begun ( unreasonable abandonment of a rescue which could worsen victim’s plight is sufficient even if done by a good Samaritan); or (5) where the defendant created the victim’s peril (D pushed V into the path of an oncoming car which D did not see, then fails to assist V). 2. Mens Rea (guilty mind) a. General Intent 1) The jury can infer the required general intent merely from the doing of the act. 2) If a defendant intended a harmful result to a particular person or object and, in trying to carry out that intent, caused a similar harmful result to another person ore object, her intent will be transferred from the intended person or object to the one actually harmed. Any defenses or mitigating circumstances that the defendant could have asserted against the intended victim will also be transferred in most cases. The doctrine of transferred intent most commonly applies to homicide, battery, and arson. It does not apply to attempt. b. Specific Intent If the definition of the crime requires not only the doing of a guilty act, but the doing of it with a specific intent or objective, the crime is a “specific intent crime”. The existence of this specific intent cannot be inferred from the doing of the act. Solicitation : Intent to have the person solicited commit the crime; Attempt : Intent to complete the crime; Conspiracy : Intent to have the crime completed; First degree premeditated murder (where so defined by statute): Premeditated intent to kill; Assault : Intent to commit a battery; Larceny and robbery : Intent to permanently deprive another of his interest in the property taken; Burglary : Intent at the time of entry to commit a felony in the dwelling of another;
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False pretenses : Intent to defraud; and Embezzlement : Intent to defraud. c. Malice
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Criminal Law Outline final - Criminal Law Outline Spring...

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