Select Page

Criminal Law
Charleston School of Law
Gammons, Debra J.

Criminal Law Outline Fall 2012-Gammons
I.                   Overview of Crimes and Trials
a.      Defining Criminal Law
                                                              i.      Sources
1.     Common law
2.     Model penal code
3.     Statutes
                                                           ii.      Legislature’s Role
1.      Decide what an offense is and make it a crime
b.      The Criminal process
                                                               i.      Investigation
1.      Report from onlooker, police see (ask prosecutor/solicitor)
                                                             ii.      Charging the Defendant
1.      Grand jury, indictment, discovery
                                                           iii.      Pre-Trial Motions
1.      Probable cause (more likely than not D committed this crime hearing in arrest
2.      Exclusionary rule
                                                           iv.      Trial
1.      Jury Trial- sometimes easier to convince lay people of certain facts, 6th amendment- impartial but no # specified
2.      Bench Trial- judge decides, more relaxed, diluted evidence (can’t exclude)
a.        quicker and cheaper
b.      unanimous
c.       voir dire- jury selection (ask questions to determine if favorable to client but can’t strike bc of race or gender and sworn to truly try the case
d.      1)state goes first then 2)defense
                                                                                                                                       i.      directed verdict motion- by defense to find in their favor based on evidence
                                                                                                                                     ii.      existence of evidence  and in light most favorable to state
                                                                                                                                   iii.      burden of proof on state so defendant doesn’t have to present their case
                                                                                                                                   iv.      5th Am.  Allows criminal def. not to incriminate self self/take stand against self
                                                                                                                                     v.      3) Motions
                                                                                                                                   vi.      4) goes to jury instructions
                                                                                                                                 vii.      5) verdict f innocence
                                                                                                                               viii.       if jury hung state can try person again
                                                             v.      Jury Nullification
1.      Depending on facts and defendant can nullify law and find opposing the evidence (usu. For emotional cases)
                                                           vi.      Plea Bargaining
1.      Agreement between prosecutor and defense for reduced charge or something else like rehab/ counseling instead of jail time
2.      Must let client know both sides to negotiation
3.      Judge doesn’t have to accept plea
4.      Voluntarily and freely given info ad can’t remove the guilty plea once made even if judge changes bargain.
                                                         vii.      Appeals
1.      Usu. Evidentiary challenges
a.       Insufficient evidence
b.      Improper inclusion/exclusion
2.      Criminal has burden of proof
3.      Gov’t can appeal if dismissed before goes to jury
c.       Role of Prosecutor v. Role of defense attorney
                                                               i.      Defense attorney- must be zealous advocate for client and finds ways to create doubt
                                                             ii.      Prosecutor- minister of justice- if no sufficient evidence then dismiss case
1.      Look at evidence, law, and facts to see if should proceed
2.      Only try cases in which offense meets elements
d.      Proof of Elements
                                                               i.      The role of appellate court in reviewing evidence
1.      State has burden of proof—proof beyond a reasonable doubt- doubt that causes a reasonable person to hesitate to act
2.      Defense attny must know the elements and make sure state has proven them all
3.      US v. Jackson
a.       Gov’t new rule 1) if govt provides court certified doc. And def. doesn’t object object then should accept (ct rejects) 2)Corroboration- both had gun possession 2)Direct evidence would be only way to prove case.
b.      Presumption of innocent until proven guilty by sufficient evidence
                                                             ii.      Fundamental Principles of Criminal Law
1.      Guilty until proven innocent
                                                         iii.      Jurisdiction
1.     Differs on burden of production—some evidence v. sufficient evidence to enable a reasonable jury to find that the elements exist
2.     Must prove this is where crime done (circumstantial evidence)
                                                         iv.      Defendant’s Role
1.      A def.  need not offer any defense bc burden of proof rests with the prosecution
2.     fairness and due process ensures that no one will be found guilty w/o sufficient evidence
e.      Reasonable Doubt
                                                              i.      People v. Solomon
1.     Must view evidence in light most favorable to the prosecution
                                                           ii.      Circumstantial v. Direct Evidence
1.      Circumstantial
a.       has same weight as direct evidence
b.     evidence from which you can draw an inference/ conclusion from
2.     Direct
a.      Actual tangible evidence (that has no direct conclusion)
                                                         iii.      State v. rimmer
1.     Overwhelming evidence
2.     Jury must find guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
f.        Proving the Case
                                                              i.      Fact determination
1.     Jury is the fact finder and determine what they are
a.      Use their own morals and background to decide
b.     Decide at credibility of witness
                                                           ii.      Witness Credibility
1.     Taylor v. Maddox
a.      Confession must be voluntary under 14th Am.
                                                         iii.      Defenses Overview
1.     Usu. “I didn’t do it”—consent, alibi, etc
2.     Affirmative defenses- D must prove this, ex. Insanity
II.                Interpreting Criminal Statutes
a.      Interpreting Criminal Statutes
                                                              i.      Tools for interpreting criminal statutes
1.     Prosecution- wants broad interp
2.     Defense- wants narrow interp.
a.      Legislative Intent- leg history, occurrence, amendment, title
b.     Precedent
c.      Plain meaning
d.     Reaction- to something that occurred
e.      Ejusdem Generis- limits language to specific terms
f.        Expressio uniu

                           ii.      Roper v. Simmons
1.     Look a nat’l consensus on the topic
2.     Minors are vulnerable, no character formed yet, lack maturity
3.     Standards of decency involved
d.     Punishment  and Victims
                                                              i.      Victims and family members can say what they want as sentence and the impact the D’s crimes had on them and their life
IV.              Elements of crime
a.      Look at statutes and ordinances and theories
b.     All elements must be present and usually happen at the same time
                                                              i.      Actus Reus- the Act
1.     must be voluntary/ not unaware
2.     omission of act with legal authority to do
                                                           ii.      Mens Rea- the mental state
                                                         iii.      Causation
                                                         iv.      Attendant circumstances
                                                            v.      Concurrence of elements
c.      Actus Reus
                                                              i.      Martin v. State
1.     Voluntary action needed in criminal case but here not in public on hwy voluntarily bc officers took him there
                                                           ii.      MPC- Voluntary Acts not considered
1.     Reflex/convulsion
2.     Bodily movement while unconscious/asleep
3.     Conduct during hypnosis
4.     Bodily movement that isn’t product of the effort or determination of the actor, either conscious or habitual.
                                                         iii.      Omission as Actus Reus
1.     West v. Comonwealth
a.      Caretaker neglect- not guilty unless engaged in conduct which includes a voluntary act or omission to perform duty which law imposes and is physically capable of
b.     engaged in such conduct intentionally, knowingly, wantonly or recklessly as law may require
c.      moral duty does not equal a legal duty
d.     have a legal duty by:
                                                                                                                                      i.      volunteering
                                                                                                                                   ii.      contract
                                                                                                                                 iii.      imposed by law
                                                                                                                                 iv.      relationship to person
2.     Good Samaritan Statutes
a.       If see someone and they are hurt/need help- don’t owe duty to help but if do help not found liable for any increase of injury
3.     Defendant and Dangerous situation
a.      No duty to stop and help unless created dangerous situation