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Criminal Law
Rutgers University, Newark School of Law
Rappaport, Elizabeth

·       I. Introduction
o       A. Principles of Punishment
§         Utilitarian
·        Punishment for the greater good of society; to better society; useful purpose; punishment only if the good from it outweighs the negative
o       No Punishment where:
§         There is no mischief to prevent; groundless
§         Ineffective; where it will not prevent mischief
§         Unprofitable; the harm will outweigh the benefit
§         Needless; where the mischief will stop on its own
o       Reasons to Punish:
§         General Deterrence to Society
§         Individual Deterrence to the Individual Actor
§         Risk Management: Remove from Society/Incarcerate
§         Reform
§         Retributivism [eye for an eye] ·        Punishment for the sake of punishment; just desserts
·        Wrongdoer’s moral culpability gives society a duty to punish
·        To put society back in balance from the harm done; punish to bring to equal playing field for all
§         Jury Nullification
·        Jury can acquit even if all the facts show guilt – used to counter oppressive government or when community feels no punishment is needed
o       B. Principle of Legality
§         The Principle of Legality
·        Condemns judicial creation of crimes
o       Can not punish someone for a crime that does not pre-exist; can not create a law after the fact to punish
o       Allows for fair warning to all
§         Doctrine of Void-for-Vagueness
·        Forbids ambiguous laws or laws which without specifying the criteria or what conduct is required to be punish; allows to much interpretation for the courts
o       Must be sufficient to inform a person of ordinary intelligence with reasonable precision
§         Rule of Strict Construction
·        Dictates that where there is uncertainty as to a law, it is construed in favor of the accused
·       II. Elements of a Crime
o       A. Actus Reus:The physical or external part of the crime; the wrongful, prohibited act
§         1. Voluntary Act
o       The act must be voluntary
·        MPC § 2.01(1): A person is not guilty of an offense unless his liability is based on conduct which includes a voluntary act or the omission to perform an act of which he is physically capable
o       Not voluntary acts under the code:
§         Reflex or convulsion
§         Movement while unconscious or sleeping
§         Conduct while hypnot

rohibit active concealment, but not simple nondisclosure, of a known felony
§         3) Attendant Circumstances
·        Elements that constitute a part of the actus reus of an offense
·        A condition that must be present, in conjunction with the prohibited conduct or result
·        I.e. In drunk driving the attendant circumstance is being drunk
o       B. Mens Rea:
§         1. Basic Concepts
·        Broad Meaning/Culpability: guilty mind, morally culpable state of mind
o       A defendant is guilty of a crime if she commits the social harm of the offense with any morally blameworthy state of mind
·        Narrow/Elemental Meaning: The mental state a defendant must have with regard to the social harm elements set out in the definition of the offense
o       A defendant is not guilt of an offense, even if she has a culpable frame of mind, if she lacks the mental state specified in the definition of the crime
§         This view prevails!!!!!