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Criminal Law
Drexel University School of Law
Benforado, Adam

Criminal Law
Summer 2014
1.      CRIMES (What crimes have potentially been committed?)
Common Law
1.  Murder (Original):
                                                       i.            Unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought
A person acts with malice if kills with any one of four mental states:
1.      Intent (purpose or knowledge) to kill
2.      Intent to cause grievous bodily harm
3.      Acts with extreme recklessness (Depraved heart murder)
                                                                                           i.            Acts with extreme indifference to the value of human life
4.      Intent to commit a felony (felony murder)
1.      Thought about killing beforehand (premeditated)
2.      General rule: “malice aforethought” an intentional killing that is unjustifiable (not self defense), inexcusable (not by the insane), and unmitigated (not in sudden heat of passion)
                                                                         i.            Intent: subjective, P must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that killer purposefully or knowingly took another's life
2.  Statutory Reform: Division of murder into degrees (first done by PA's legislation in 1794)
                                                       i.            States concluded not all murders merited the death penalty
                                                     ii.            Only 1st degree carried possibility of death penalty
1.      First Degree
                                                                                           i.            Original common law: Intent to kill
                                                                                         ii.            Willful, deliberate, premeditated formula
                                                                                                             i.            Willful: intentional (malice aforethought)
                                                                                                           ii.            Premeditated: “to think about beforehand”
                                                                                                         iii.            Deliberate: “to measure and evaluate the major facets of choice and problem”
1.      Courts often fail to distinguish between premeditated/deliberation
2.      Premeditation and deliberation is usually the distinction between 1st and 2nd degree
Guthrie: Dishwasher kills co-worker after being hit with a towel
Holding: Premeditation/Deliberation (no specific time can be set): Any interval of time between forming of the intent to kill and the execution of that intent, which is sufficient duration for the accused to be fully conscious of what he intended, is sufficient to support a conviction for first degree murder
Midgett: Father beats and kills starving son, but says did not intend to kill but intend to keep abusing
Holding: the history of abuse does not show that he intended to kill his son (premeditation and deliberation), only that he intended to further abuse him
State v Forrest: Man shoots father in hospital to avoid his suffering
Holding: To determine deliberation and premeditation, circumstantial evidence must be used (factors)
1.      Provocation from victim,
2.      Conduct/statement of D before and after killing
3.      Threats and declarations of D before and during
4.      Ill will between two parties
5.      Continuing blows after victim is down
6.      Brutal killing
2.      Felony murder
                                                                                           i.            General rule: killing committed in preparation of or attempt to perpetrate an enumerated felony is first degree murder
People v Fuller: D steal tires from locked van, engage in hit and run and kill after in accident
Holding: The law applies since it was a burglary but does not achieve the purpose of the rule.  The symmetry of law can be destroyed by equating an accidental killing during a petty theft with a premeditated murder.  This does not deter those engaged in felonies from killing negligently or accidently, which is the purpose of the murder-felony rule.
(Deterrence is typically rationale used for felony murder)
2.      Limitations:
                                                                                                             i.            Inherently dangerous felony: felony must be inherently dangerous to apply to FMR
People v Howard: Tahoe without license sped away from cops after being pulled over, got in accident and killed driver
Holding: Can the felony by its nature be committed without creating a substantial risk of killing
2.      Independent felony/merger doctrine:
Smith: Parents beat and kill child for refusing to eat snack on a couch
Holding: FMR only applies if the underlying felony is independent of the homicide
                                                                                                         iii.            Res Gestae Limitation
                                                                                                                             1.            There must be a causal connection between the felony and death, fact that death occurs temporally during commission of crime does not trigger FMR
                                                                                                         iv.            Killing by a non-felon
Sophophone: after being put in cop car, cop shot by another
Holding: a person cannot be convicted of a crime as punishment for the act of a third person
                                                                                                                                                 i.            Agency approach: FMR does not apply if person who directly causes the death is a non-felony (Majority)
                                                                                                                                               ii.            Proximate causation approach: FMR applies to killings by non-felons if the felon set in motion the acts that caused (was a prox cause) of victim's death (Minority)
                                                                     iii.            Second Degree
                                                                                         1.            Original common law: intent to inflict grievous bodily injury/depraved heart
                                                                                         2.            Unlawful killing with malice aforethought but without premeditation/deliberation
                                                                                                             i.            Express malice: There is manifested a deliberate intention to take away the life of a fellow creature
                                                                                                           ii.            Implied malice: No considerable provocation appears, or when circumstances attending the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart (statutory definition)
Moore: Guy's house was burglarized, was mad and sped in car and ran a red light and killed someone
Holding: A jury is entitled to infer that regardless of the mental state or condition that accompanies an instance of recklessness-whether intoxication, rage, or willful irresponsibility-subsequent apprehension and prosecution for that conduct must impart a knowledge and understanding of the personal and social consequences of such behavior
Knoller Holding:
                                                                                                                               i.            The definition for implied malice could lead a jury to equate it with an evil or despicable character, instead of awareness of risk

                                                   i.  A homicide committed recklessly constitutes manslaughter
                                                                                                             i.        Difference between reckless manslaughter and murder: Although reckless, does not manifest an extreme indifference to human life
                                                                       2.            Extreme or Emotional Disturbance
                                                                                           i.  Broader view of common law provocation doctrine
Casassa (MPC committed recklessly): Guy stalks ex girlfriend living in same building, bring her alcohol and kills her
Holding: Extreme emotional Disturbance
There are 2 principal components:
                                                                                                             i.            The particular defended acted under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance (wholly subjective)
                                                                                                           ii.            There is a reasonable explanation for it (objective)
                                                                                                                             1.            Difference between heat of passion and extreme emotional disturbance is temporal, and one requires immediate action while the other can be over a period of time
                                                                                                                             2.             The issue is not whether there is a reasonable explanation or excuse for the homicide, it is whether or not there is an excuse for the extreme emotional disturbance
                                                   iii.            Negligent Homicide
                                                                       1.            Criminally negligent killing
                                                                       2.            Involuntary manslaughter at common law
                                     i.        Actus Reus:
                                                     1.            Penetration
                                                                         i.            Original common law offense required penetration
                                                                       ii.            Reform statutes of sexual assault and battery prohibit all forms of forcible sexual penetration
                                                     2.            Marital Immunity
                                                                         i.            Originally conceived upon the notion that a wife always consents, some states have abolished the rule
                                                     3.            Non-consent
                                                                         i.            Essence of rape
                                                                       ii.            Element of the crime, must be proved by P
                                                     4.            Force