mens rea reckless conscious disregard for substantial risk of death Penn

Mens rea reckless conscious disregard for substantial

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mens rea: reckless: conscious disregard for substantial risk of death. - Penn. statute: Act: Death of person as a direct result of doing an unlawful act. mens rea: reckless or gross negligence. - State v. Williams . (WA). Native American parents appeal conviction of manslaughter on grounds that their actions did not satisfy negligence standard for involuntary manslaughter. - Court upholds conviction, based on an objective standard for “reasonable care” to establish negligence in parents’ actions. - Note that most states do not use mere negligence as mens rea for manslaughter. - Porter v. State . (FL) Δ runs through stop sign in unfamiliar rural road, hits and kills driver coming across. Court overturns conviction, says that while he was negligent, his actions did not rise to recklessness required for manslaughter conviction. - Notice difference mens rea requirement for FL invol. manslaughter than WA. - US v. Walker . (DC) Δ charged with invol. manslaughter for carrying around gun without license that was dropped, went off, and killed someone. - Misdemeanor manslaughter - court says that misdemeanor intent (no license) can substitute for gross negligence required for involuntary manslaughter statute. - Intent shifting and relaxation of liability almost to strict liabilty- shortcut permitted on public safety grounds. Superdeterrent - For misdemeanor manslaughter: need to show act and intent for misdemeanor coupled with casual link to death. 2. Voluntary : elements: killing + provocation + heat of passion - Requires some examination of victim’s action- look for provocation of Δ - Acknowledgement of emotional aspect of human nature. - Even with express intent to kill, if provocation is present it is not murder. Note that a person’s response to your provocation does not count as provocation to you. - Considerations 1.What constitutes adequate provocation? 2.How immediate must provocation be to killing? Cooling off period? 3.How flexible are we in defining reasonable person?
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-People v. Walker.(IL) Δ and friends threatened by stranger with knife. Knocked stranger down, then slit his throat. Court downgraded murder to manslaughter b/c felt his actions were done in a “heat of passion” after provocation.-Note that Δ crossed line after knocking person down (or even if he had accidentally killed him with brick)- stabbing no longer self defense, since stranger was incapacitated at that point. That is why it is manslaughter and not excusable self-defense.-Rowland v. State.(MS) Δ shot wife after seeing her in bed with another man. Court found this sufficient provocation to downgrade from murder to manslaughter based on common law categories of sufficient provocation.-Types of conduct sufficient for provocation: Now expanded from common law categories.-Words generally not considered provocation as matter of law, but some jurisdictions have modified that through case law.-Existence of provocationexamined from a subjectivestandpoint.-Adequacy of provocationexamined from an objective, “reasonable person” standpoint.-People v. Berry. (CA) Δ was provoked for extended period of time by wife who told him she was in love with another man. Court found sufficient evidence for voluntary manslaughter for jury to consider that charge.-See a type of provocation not normally recognized under common law. -Lesson:aside from vengeance, there really isn’t much the jury can’t hear to determine if provocation and “heat of passion” exists.-People v. Wu. (CA) Δ killed son, wanted to be allowed to present defense of “unconsciousness”- wasn’t aware of what she was doing. Court agrees that should be introduced. -In dicta, court also said evaluation of reasonableness of provocation should be done in context of cultural considerations.
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