Crim_Law_Unknown7 - I Criminal Law Note Most cases dont...

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I. Criminal Law Note: Most cases don’t make it to trial, but the occasional trial is important because they set guidelines for plea negotiations. Two types of defenses: missing element (state has not proved an element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt) and affirmative defense (defendant admits to crime, but has a justification). II. I. ELEMENTS OF JUST PUNISHMENT: DEFINING CRIM. CONDUCT III. A. Principles that function to limit the distribution of punishment: 1. Culpability : To safeguard conduct that is without fault from criminal condemnation. Punish people who deserve it. 2. Legality : To give fair warning of the nature of the conduct declared to constitute a defense. Due process, state has burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, etc. 3.Proportionality: To differentiate on reasonable grounds between serious and minor offenses. Does the level of punishment fit the crime? B. Elements of crime 1. conduct : Bodily movement or omission. 2. attendant circumstance : In order for the offense to occur, certain circumstances must be present when the actor performs the prohibited conduct and or causes the prohibited result. Examples include absences of consent in rape, or commission of a crime at night. 3. result : Crime defined in terms of a prohibited result. Homicide is an example. C. Elements for Establishing Culpability: Actus Reus and Mens Rea 1. Actus Reus- Culpable Conduct (conduct of the crime): the physical or external portion of the crime. Consists of (1) voluntary act (or a failure to perform a voluntary act that one has a legal duty to perform), (2) that causes (3) social harm . Note that speech can be sufficient conduct as well as possession, see MPC 2.01 (4) . a. Voluntary act : a person is not guilty of a crime unless her conduct includes a voluntary act, i.e. a conscious exercise of the will. i. Act : Bodily movement, which involves physical but not necessarily visible behavior (could be muscular contraction). ii. Voluntary : Willed contraction of a muscle, i.e. movement following volition. Martin v. State (1944): people cannot be criminally punished for acts they commit involuntarily . The statute presupposes a voluntary state. 1
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Note: Non-actions : Not a person’s action (Martin picked up and carried out by police). Caused actions : Forced movement (Police order Martin to go outside and he complies). The actor makes a conscious decision to act, but the act is not voluntary because it is an influenced decision. iii. To serve the purpose of deterrence , the act should be voluntary (to deter willful actors). b. Recognized Exceptions of Voluntary Actions (MPC 2.01) i. reflex or convulsion People v. Decina : Even though a reflex or a convulsion is an excuse, the actor in this instance cannot use this defense because he knowingly undertook the risk of driving while suffering from a disease that is characterized by frequent convulsions, etc. The actus reus was established when he began driving.
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  • Spring '09
  • CARSON
  • criminal law

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