Criminal Law Outline
Every Crime Requires
A mens rea (a proscribed mental state)
Actus rea (a proscribed act)
A specified harm
Actus rea- movement of the human body that is in some minimal sense willed or directed by the actor
Omission to act- As long as there is at least one voluntary act in the D’s course of conduct- he may be criminally responsible- (ie, D drives a car even though D knows he is subject to epileptic seizures- (driving is the voluntary act) (seizure is the involuntary act)
MPC Breaks Actus Rea into three separate elements
Conduct- physical behavior of D- i.e., driving a car or shooting a gun
Circumstance- is an objective fact or condition that exists in the real world when D engages in the conduct- many criminal statutes include circumstances in the definition of the crime- ie, burglary occurs “at night”
Result- consequence or outcome caused by D’s conduct
Mens rea- (Latin for Guilty mind)- wickedness
Statutory mens rea- mental state required by the statute
Specific Kinds of Mens Rea
Transferred intent- is limited to results that create the same type of harm as was actually intended
Willfully + Knowingly + Recklessness
Knowingly- D need not intend the result, but rather D need only know that the result is virtually certain- if D is aware of a high risk (high probability of its existence)
Willfully- D knew what the consequences of his actions were likely to be
Recklessness- conscious decision to ignore a risk, of which the D is aware that a bad result will occur or that a fact is present- Recklessness stands between intent on one side and criminal negligence on the other- the essence of recklessness is that the D know injury is being risked, but proceeds anyway Key- MPC requires that the risk that D foresees (and thereafter consciously disregards) be substantial and unjustifiable
MPC Recklessness- requires that D recognize that there is a particular risk and subjectively choose to disregard that risk
Recklessness vs. Negligence
the difference is not that there is a ris
a violation thereof.
Policy- If a person accused of a crime could shield himself behind the defense that he was ignorant of the law which he violated, immunity from punishment would in most cases result. The rule rests on public necessity, welfare of society, and safety of the state.
Policy- make people cognizant of the law
C-L- mistake of fact as a defense (1) if crime is a specific intent crime- mistake only has to be honest in the mind of D (subjective test) (2) general intent crime- mistake must be both honest and reasonable in the mind of a 3rd person (objective test)
Criminal intent is the intent to do the prohibited act, not the intent to violate the law.
People v. O’Brien-. Held- Ignorance of law is no excuse, and it is irrelevant that Ä had no fraudulent intent. So long as there is a willingness to commit the act, Ä is guilty.