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Criminal Law
Rutgers University, Newark School of Law
Thomas, W. John

CRIMINAL LAW OUTLINE
(Good luck!)

1. Introduction 3
a. Purpose of the criminal justice system:3
b. Pre-Trial Protections for D:3
c. Trial Protections for D 3
d. Trial Procedures:3
e. State as Party 4
2. Why Punish?. 4
i. Retribution. Backward Looking. 4
ii. Deterrence:5
iii. Incapacitation:5
iv. Strengthening Societal Norms 5
v. Moral Influence:5
vi. Rehabilitation: now seen as a dividend rather than as a purpose of punishment.5
vii. Restorative Justice: reincorporates the criminal into society 5
3. General Principles of Criminal Law 5
a. What is a crime?. 5
b. Sentencing:6
v. Federal Sentencing Guidelines:6
vi. Plea Bargaining. 7
c. Limits on crimes. 7
i. Proportionality 7
ii. Notice considerations 8
4. Elements of Criminal Liability. 9
a. Actus Reus:9
i. Criminal liability requires performance of a voluntary act or an omission. 9
ii. Acts by Omission:10
b. Mens Rea (Exception: Strict Liability Crimes)10
c. Strict Liability elements. 12
d. Mistake of Fact:13
e. Mistake of Law:13
i. Generally not treated as a defense.13
ii. Common law:14
iii. MPC 15
iv. NYPC 15
5. Homicide –all homicides require that the d caused the death.15
a. Murder.15
b. Felony Murder17
c. Voluntary Manslaughter19
d. Involuntary Manslaughter (unintentional)21
e. Negligent Homicide (unintentional).21
f. Misdemeanor Manslaughter21
g. Causation 21
h. Death Penalty. 22
6. Sex Crimes. 23
a. Definition:23
i. Historic elements:23
ii. Non-forcible coercion is not historically rape.24
iii. Current elements:24
7. Anticipatory Crimes—most crimes on the books are inchoate crimes.26
a. Attempt26
i. Definition 26
ii. Purpose 27
iii. Sentencing 27
iv. Common Law 27
b. Other Anticipatory Crimes:28
c. Renunciation:28
d. Impossibility:28
8. Joint Responsibility. 29
a. Parties to crimes. 29
i. Generally 29
ii. Mens Rea 30
iii. Actus Reus—broad: aid, abet, counsel, etc.31
iv. Derivative Liability, 640-641 31
b. Conspiracy and Related Offenses. 31
i. CL Def:31
ii. Actus Reus. 33
iii. Mens Rea 33
iv. Scope:34
v. RICO 34
9. Defenses.35
a. Justifications.35
i. NYPL 35
ii. NECESSITY.. 35
iii. LESSER EVIL: HOW DOES THIS COME INTO THE PICTURE??? 36
iv. EUTHANASIA Issues:37
b. Excuses:38
iii. Duress:38
iv. Intoxication 38
v. Insanity 38

1. Introduction
a. Purpose of the criminal justice system: crimes are standards of conduct necessary to protect individuals in the community from unreasonable interference in their lives, and punishes punish members who violate the basic rules of group existence.
i. President’s Commission on Law Enforcement: 1967. criminal justice system serves three purposes: to remove dangerous people from community, to deter others from criminal behavior, to transform lawbreakers into law-abiding citizens. Does so using the police, the prosecutor, the judge, and the correction system.
b. Pre-Trial Protections for D:
i. Statutory interpretation: interpret a criminal statute in the light most favorable to the defendant. Lenity.
ii. Crimes must be narrowly defined—unconstitutional if too vague.
c. Trial Protections for D
i. The burden of proof is be beyond a reasonable doubt.
1. Doctrine: Reasonable doubt =def if you look at all the evidence, you have a doubt you can reasonably explain. Plaintiff must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. Justification:
a. The stakes are very high, and we’re afraid we might be wrong. The moral blame resulting from being imprisoned is great
b. We want to limit the power of the state over individuals.
ii. The charge must be precise, and that is the only thing the defendant must answer.
iii. Jury trial:
1. Doctrine: Can’t waive right to jury trial in federal system, but you can in NY.
2. Justification: Objectivity, reduce corruption of judges, educating citize

dual’s outrage as our own, we fear the victim’s retaliation, and we fear the perpetrator’s repeating the crime.
ii. Stone—Mounties: The Miners Meetings in the Yukon dealt satisfactorily with crime (focusing on character), but the Mounties came and took control for these reasons: Sovereignty, to reduce the fear of retaliation, they had enforcement powers, to enforce laws good for the nation as a whole like taxes, to decide what laws to impose in cases of disagreement.

2. Why Punish?
a. Doctrine: Various reasons—backward looking justifications: just deserts, reaffirming societal norms, buttressing the solidarity of society, pay back for privileges taken illicitly. Forward looking justifications: prevention, rehabilitation, incapacitation, deterrence, education as to what morals are thought to be important by society. Alternatively, there’s restorative justice, but this isn’t widely used.
i. Retribution. Backward Looking
1. Kant: punishment for punishment’s sake. Retribution. Otherwise, justice is undermined.
2. James Fitzjames Stephen, a History of the Criminal Law of Englad, 1883: “The criminal law proceeds on the principle that it’s morally right to hate criminals, and it confirms and justifies that sentiment by inflicting upon criminals puinishments which express it.” 104.
3. Michael Moore, The Moral Worth of Retribution, 1987: Retributivism means that we are justified in punishing only because offenders deserve it.
Mackie, A Test Case for Ethical Objectivity, 1991: retributive sentiments are evolutionarily and sociologically based.