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Criminal Law
San Joaquin College of Law
Cronin, Phillip S.

8/23/2005
What? (Law, Crime and Punishment)
1.Mens Rea(guilty mind), 2. Actus Reus (guilty act), 3. Concurrence of mens rea and actus rea, 4. Harm, 5. Causation, 6. Punishment, 7. Legality
“The object of criminal law is to deter individual from committing acts that injure society by harming others, their property, or the public welfare and to express society’s condemnation of such acts by punishment.”
“A crime or public offense is an act committed or omitted in violation of law forbidding or commanding it to which is fixed upon conviction: (1) Death, (2) imprisonment, (3) fine, (4) removal from office, or (5) disqualification to hold office of honor, trust, or profit in this state.”-penal code 15.
English commonlaw
Classifications of crimes

Corpus dilecti rule

Element #1-The occurrence of specific kind of loss or injury-e.g. homicide-person deceased, Arson- house burned, Burglary- house broken into.
Element #2- somebody’s criminality as source of the injury or loss
Rationale-Must prove above 2 elements by some evidence before defendants confession can be used.
1.Murder-the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.
2.Malice Aforethought- intention to kill, actual or implied under the circumstances which don’t excuse(looks at internal mental state of the actor), justify(looks at objective facts), or mitigate(adequate provocation).
3.

Actual: where defendant consciously desires to cause death,
impliet: where defendant intended to cause Great Bodily Injury or where natural result of his act is to cause death or GBI.

4. Mental state required for Malice Aforethought- Mens Rea

a. Intent to kill- Deadly weapon rule- the use of a deadly weapon presumes the intent to kill. (not a mandatory presumption, but a permissive inference)

b. Intent to inflict GBI
c. Intent to commit felony-inherently dangerous felony.

d. Depraved heart: Awareness that one’s act poses unusually high risk (of death or serious bodily injury) of harm to another of complete indifference to that risk.

Degrees of Murder

1st Degree

a. Premeditated- considered beforehand
b. Deliberate- Formed as a result of careful thought and weighing considerations for and against the act.

i. Indicia of both. -Look for planning activity, measuring lethal dose of poison, lying in wait, use of an explosive,

2nd Degree
-Catch all. – All killings with MAF not specified as first degree murder. (intent to kill, intent to inflict GBI, intent to commit felony not specified under 1st degree felony murder rule, depraved heart murder)
When does life begin?

Commonlaw-not homicide unless fetus is born alive- totally expelled from the womb and show

When does life end- when heart stops beating and lungs stop breathing. Modern test is brain death.

Total lack of reponse from external stimuli

Year and a day rule-death of victim who is recipient of bodily injury from defendant must occur within a year and a day of the injury.

Felony Murder Rule

Presumptions and Inferences.

Note pg 131- Implied malice may be found when a defendant, knowing that his conduct endangers life and acting with conscious disregard of danger, commits an act the natural consequences of which are dangerous to life.

Voluntary manslaughter

(The intent to kill is different than malice aforethought because the intent to kill did not begin until after the provocation. )

Elements of provocation reducing murder to manslaughter

(objective)Must have adequate provocation that would cause a reasonable man to lose control and act rashly and without reflection.
(subjective) Defendant must in fact have been provoked and provocation must have caused the defendant to kill the victim.
(objective) The interval between the provocation and

defendant reached a temporary positions of safety.
ii. Some courts say that the felony murder rule stops at the completion or abandonment of the felony.
iii. Other courts say that if the death occurs during the commission or immediate completion of the crime then it still applies provided temporary safety has not been reached.
h. Death occurs in furtherance of the felony.
.-elements-Premeditated and deliberate (includes first degree felony murder where predicate crime-burglary, robbery, arson, rape, kidnapping)
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Treason, felony, and misdemeanor
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Malum in se(bad in themselves) vs. Malum prohibitum(bad b/c of law)
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If crime requires criminal intent as an element its malum in se.
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If the crime involves moral turpitude- malum inse
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If the crime is dangerous to life or limb-malum in se.
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If malum in se then foreseeability does not matter.
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Crimes of moral turpitude vs those that don’t
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Licences revoked, empeachment
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Infamous crimes vs those that aren’t
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Infamous crimes give you the right to indictment.
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Wobbler- can be classified as either felony or misdemeanor.
o
Defendant knows act poses Unusually High risk of death/GBI to another.
o
No justification for the act.
o
Defendant acts with extreme indifference(more than negligence and gross negligence) to risk
o
Defendant’s act causes the victims death.
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Events preceeding including final culmination (straw that broke the camels back)
Expansion of interval and reasonable man-