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Unformatted text preview: Criminal Law
The Nature and Limits of Criminal Law CRJU E314 Criminal Law
Spring 2011, Mr. Smith
Spring Limits to Law
Limits Non-criminal wrongs
Non-criminal “Victims” should sue the actors (a word for parties in legal cases) who injured
them, but the stigma of “criminal” should not be attached to such offenders. Licensing and Regulation Taxes, Penalties, Licensing, Permits, etc. provide a non-criminal means of
pursuing those who may potentially violate the law, as well as some who do
violate the law.
violate Limits to Law
Limits Social condemnation
Social Friends and other people who matter should criticize what the actors did and
maybe even cut off their relationship with them for doing it.
maybe Individual conscience Leave the control to the individual’s guilty conscience. Limits to Law
Limits No action
No IIgnore what the actors did.
gnore Nolle Prosequi → No Prosecution Social encouragement
Social The actors should be praised for what they did. Constitutional Limits
Constitutional Due process of law
Due Legislatures have to write criminal laws that are clear enough for individuals
and government officials to know in advance exactly what the law bans.
and Equal protection of the law
Equal Legislatures can’t define crimes and punishments that apply differently based
on inherited characteristics (race, ethnicity, gender, and age).
on Individual rights and liberties Legislatures can’t make crimes that violate the rights to free speech, religion,
and The Components of Criminal Liability
The An action or conduct which occurred;
which, without justification or excuse;
inflicted, or threatened infliction of, substantial harm;
to an individual, or individuals, in violation of public
interests. Criminal Liability
Criminal Actus reus (criminal act)
Actus We punish people for what they do, not for what they intend to do or for who
they Mens rea (criminal state-of-mind)
(criminal Before an act can be said to be criminal it must have been committed with the
requisite mindset. Punishment
Punishment Punishment depends on the blameworthiness of the conduct and the intent
that accompanies the criminal act.
Concurrence Criminal state-of-mind (mens rea) must be present with the criminal act (actus
reus) and cause criminal harm in order for criminal liability to attach.
reus) Crimes vs. Torts
Crimes Crimes are actions brought by the state against individuals because
they have violated societal rules.
they Non-criminal, or civil, wrongs, also known as “torts”, make it possible
for one individual to sue another and receive monetary
compensation where the action of the wrongdoer caused the victim
loss but did not violate a societal rule.
loss A crime differs from a “tort” in the sense that the crime harms the
interests of the community, or society, as a whole, whereas a “tort”
harms the interests of an individual.
harms Where an act harms both a societal, as well as an individual
interest, it may be classified as both crime and tort.
interest, Trends in Punishment
Trends Historically, societies have justified punishment on the
grounds of retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation.
grounds Retribution dominated penal policy until 18th century,
when it was replaced with deterrence and incapacitation.
when Rehabilitation replaced deterrence in the late 20th
century and was the major form of punishment until
1960. By the mid-1980’s retribution and incapacitation were the
primary forms of criminal punishment.
primary Rationale for Criminal Punishment
Rationale Criteria for criminal punishment Inflict pain or other consequences
Prescribed within the law defining the crime
Administered by the state as a sanction for wrongful behavior Prevention potential for punishment General deterrence
Special deterrence (Specific)
Rehabilitation Retribution An “eye for an eye” captures the idea of retribution Procedural and Substantive Criminal Law
Procedural Procedural Criminal Law
Procedural The legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated the
substantive criminal law.
substantive Concerned primarily with the protections, rights and constitutional limits
associated with the investigation and prosecution of violations of the
substantive criminal law.
substantive Substantive Criminal Law The general part covers principles that apply to all crimes: constitutional
principles found in the U.S. and state constitutions.
principles The special part defines specific crimes and arranges them into groups
according to their subject matter.
according Crime Classifications
Crime Felonies Crimes punishable by death or imprisonment in a state facility for life or a
period of time.
period Misdemeanors Crimes punishable by a fine or a jail term of up to a year in a local facility. Chapter 1
Chapter The Nature and Limits of Criminal Law
(Continued) Origins of Crime
Societal Controversy… Malum in se IInherently evil conduct
that has injurious
consequences Malum prohibitum Conduct prohibited by law
because it is not
inherently evil in nature
inherently Every society may disagree on what
is “evil” behavior and what behavior
“should” be criminalized by society.
Examples: Viewing sex offenders differently
county by county Different states having different ages
at which a child can be treated as an
adult for a crime Categories of Crime
Categories Crimes against the state: Domestic and foreign terror.
Domestic Crimes against the person:
Crimes Murder and rape.
Murder Crimes against property:
Crimes Larceny and trespass.
Larceny Crimes against public order and morals: Aggressive panhandling, loitering and prostitution. Sources of the Criminal Law
Sources U.S. Constitution
Common law of England
U.S. criminal code
State criminal codes
Judicial decisions Source: Princeton University Legal Research Guide
Source: Common-Law Origins
Common-Law Criminal codes didn’t spring full-grown from state
legislatures. They evolved from a long history of ancient
offenses called common-law crimes. These crimes were created before legislatures existed
and when social order depended on obedience to
unwritten rules: lex non scripta
lex State common law crimes Federal common law crimes IIn U.S v. Hudson and Goodwin (1812), the U.S. Supreme Court held that
federal courts only have jurisdiction over criminal offenses created by
Congress or, in other words, that there is no federal common law. The case
is an affirmation of the principle “nulla poena sine lege” ( "no punishment
without a law"). Criminal Law Today
Criminal Today, statutory law is the prevailing source of criminal
law and has largely replaced common law. Many states
have abolished common law crimes, but some, such as
South Carolina, have enacted “reception statutes”,
expressly recognizing common law offenses when
statutory law has not repealed them or does not provide
a punishment for such an offense.
punishment Reception statutes assimilate into a state’s law those
offenses existing at English common law at the time the
reception statute was enacted by the legislature. As an
example, any crime that existed in England at the time
South Carolina enacted its "reception statute" in 1712
remains a crime in this state unless it has been
abolished by statute or by constitutional action. South Carolina Code of Laws
SECTION 14-1-50. Common law of England shall
continue in effect.
“All, and every part, of the common law of England,
where it is not altered by the Code or inconsistent with
the Constitution or laws of this State, is hereby continued
in full force and effect in the same manner as before the
adoption of this section.”
adoption Misprision of Felony
Misprision Model Penal Code (MPC)
Model First published by the American Law Institute (ALI) in
1962, it is not binding law in any jurisdiction, but it has
caused many states to significantly revise their statutory
provisions related to criminal offenses.
provisions It is especially helpful when trying to determine certain
mens rea terms.
mens No state has adopted the MPC in whole, but many
courts have been influenced by it and it is often cited in
their decisions as a basis for the result reached.
their Administrative Agency Offenses
Administrative These are rules or regulations written by governmental
agencies which have been granted authority from either
federal or state legislative bodies to create them.
federal They are a rapidly growing source of punitive law, but
they often raise constitutional questions. One question is “Can a legislative body authorize administrative bodies to
create regulations which permit a criminal penalty for violation of their
regulations?” As an example, many provisions in the Code of Federal Regulations, which
contains administrative rules created by federal agencies, contain criminal
provisions. Reading a Court Case
Reading Facts of the case Action of the court Question - Legal issues involved Syllabus Decision Affirm
Reverse and Remand – Send the case back to lower court Opinions Majority
Dissenting The Syllabus
The Unanimous Opinion
Unanimous A Dissenting Opinion
Dissenting Case Citations
Case Example: State v. Metzger; 319 N.W. 2d 459 (Neb.
1982). How to interpret the citation: 319 = The first number is the “reporter” volume number = 319 N.W.2d = This abbreviation refers to the Northwestern Reporter, Second
Series, a collection of cases decided in a specific area or jurisdiction.
Series, 459 = The page number on which the case is found in Volume 319 of the
reporter, page 459
reporter, Neb. 1982 = This indicates that the case was a decision of the Nebraska
Supreme Court in the year 1982.
Supreme Source: Princeton University Legal Research Guide
Source: US Court Structure
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This note was uploaded on 02/20/2012 for the course CRJU E314 taught by Professor Mr.smith during the Spring '11 term at South Carolina.
- Spring '11