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Criminal Law
South Texas College of Law Houston
Crump, Susan Waite

Criminal Law Outline
Crump – Spring 2012
Chapter 2: Homicide
I.                    Common Law Homicide
a.       Must have both a mens rea (evil mind) and an actus reus (evil act; or circumstance)
b.       Originally, only two forms of common law homicide
                                                                                          i.      Murder
1.       Subject to capital punishment
2.       Malice aforethought present
                                                                                         ii.      Manslaughter
1.       Not subject to capital punishment
2.       No malice aforethought
                                                                                                                           i.      Malice aforethought typically no longer employed
                                                                                                                          ii.      D doesn’t need to be malicious or preparatory
                                                                                                                        iii.      Must kill with one of the requisite states of mind necessary for murder
b.       Intent to kill
                                                                                                                           i.      Intent to inflict serious bodily injury
1.       Some jurisdictions, assault with a deadly weapon
c.        Outrageous recklessness amounting to a depraved heart
d.       Killing committed while perpetrating a felony
II.                  Mens Rea and Actus Reus elements
a.       Mens Rea for types of homicide
                                                                                          i.      First Degree Murder (M1)
1.       Express malice (intent to kill); AND
1.       Look at circumstantial or direct evidence to show D purposefully killed victim
2.       Premeditation; AND
3.       Deliberation
                                                                                         ii.      Second Degree Murder (M2)
1.       Express malice (intent to kill); OR
2.       Implied malice
                                                                                                                           i.      Intent to cause SBH
                                                                                                                          ii.      Depraved heart homicide
1.       Intentional, unlawful felonious act with an extremely high risk of death
2.       Extreme indifference to human life
3.       Some jurisdictions call it gross recklessness
                                                                                                                        iii.      Felony murder
1.       Accidental killing during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony
2.       NO premeditation OR deliberation
                                                                                       iii.      Voluntary Manslaughter
1.       Murder mitigated by:
                                                                                                                           i.      Heat of passion
                                                                                                                          ii.      Adequate cause
                                                                                       iv.      Involuntary Manslaughter
1.       Reckless; OR
2.       Misdemeanor manslaughter
                                                                                          i.      Voluntary Act (act)
                                                                                         ii.      Causation (act)
                                                                                       iii.      Death (result)
                                                                                       iv.      Circumstances
c.        “Involuntary acts”
                                                                                          i.      Reflex or convulsion;
                                                                                         ii.      Bodily movement during unconsciousness or sleep
                                                                                       iii.      Bodily movement under hypnotic suggestion (not all jurisdictions)
                                                                                       iv.      Bodily movement not otherwise the product of the effort or determination of the actor (conscious or habitual)
III.               Aspects of Homicide
a.       Premeditation
                                                   i.            Most legislatures have divided murder into degrees
                                                  ii.            Premeditation divides M1 from M2
                                                iii.            Definitions
a.       Deliberate formation of and reflection upon the intent to take a human life (Wash)
b.       Process of thinking, reflecting, weighing or reasoning for a period of time (Wash)
c.        Acting with either the intention the knowledge of killing another human being (AZ)
d.       Reflection must be more than the mere passage of time (AZ)
e.        No premeditation if the act is done in the instant effect of a sudden quarrel or heat of passion (AZ)
                                                iv.            Common law tends to say that if there is no weapon, then there is likely no premeditation and therefore M2
a.       Can still have a weapon and be charged with M2
                                                 v.            If a weapon is present, there will likely be premeditation
a.       Exception:
                                                                                                         i.      In Anderson it was determined that a guy who stabbed a girl 60 times and then cut out her genitals could not be convicted of M1 because of the absence of planning or proven motive coupled with the randomness of the 60 stab wounds (as opposed to one wound in the heart or jugular vein). There was not a jury question of premeditation. Therefore, D could be guilty of nothing more than M2 because there was no premeditation
                                                vi.            Determining premeditation
a.       Facts about how and what D did prior to the actual killing to show that D was engaged in activity directed toward, and explicable as intent to result in the killing (“planning” activity)
b.       Facts about D’s prior relationship and/or conduct with the victim from which the jury can reasonably infer a “motive” to kill
c.        Facts about the nature of the killing from which the jury could infer that the “manner and means of killing” was so particular and exacting that D must have intentionally killed according to a preconceived design
                                                                                                         i.      i.e. multiple wounds, throat slash, attack from behind
1.       Be careful, in Anderson while there were 60 stabs wounds it was determined to be an extreme emotional state and the manner and means of killing actually pointed away from premeditation
                                                                                                        ii.      Presence of a weapon
                                              vii.            Premeditation does not always help with what is or isn’t a bad crime
a.       Anderson had no premeditation even though it was extremely vicious
                                             viii.            Premeditation is a state of mind
a.       Requires D’s subjective thought process
                                                                                                         i.      Proven through direct and/or circumstantial evidence (usually circumstantial)
                                                ix.            Even if D was very angry, if there is some sort of semi-cool calculation, there can be premeditation
                                                 x.            North Carolina has four classes of M1:
a.       Murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, or torture;
                                                                                                         i.      Policy rationale: avoids defense of “I didn’t mean to”
b.       Murder perpetrated by any other kind of willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing;
c.        Murder committed in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of certain felonies;
d.       Murder committed in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of any felony committed or attempted with the use of a deadly weapon
b.       Heat of Passion
                                             i.            Killings that would normally constitute murder, but are committed during the heat of passion will sometim

a.       Reckless with the respect to the result, AND:
                                                                                             i.      Aware of the risk
1.       If not aware, can’t prevent or not do the crime (rationale)
                                                                                            ii.      Consciously disregards the risk
                                                                                          iii.      It is a substantial AND unjustifiable risk
                                    iv.            Criminally Negligent Homicide
a.       Reckless killing without awareness of risk
                                     v.            D doesn’t have to have an affirmative act; can intentionally fail to act
a.       Must have a duty to act and fail to live up to the duty to act in order to be charged
                                                                                             i.      Duty from a statute, status relationship, contractual agreement, voluntarily assuming care of another
b.       Actus Reus: failure to act (voluntary act)
c.        Must have wanton and reckless conduct
                                    vi.            Involuntary manslaughter is centered around the risk of D’s conduct
a.       NOT on what would shock a man, or be merciless or inhumane, etc.
                                  vii.            Both involuntary manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide require recklessness
a.       Goodman had facts that showed D was/knew the possibility that something could go wrong, therefore involuntary manslaughter (risk of death under all of the circumstances)
b.       Welansky showed that there can be a duty and a breach of duty by failing to act in a reasonable manner
                                                                                             i.      Must be a reckless failure to act
                                                                                            ii.      Failure to take reasonable care of an owner in the same situation
                                                                                          iii.      Either failing to act or an affirmative act (i.e. sealing doors) can breach a duty
c.        Conrad – tired driver
                                                                                             i.      Virginia says that an accidental killing while operating a vehicle that is the proximate cause of death must be so gross to have “reckless and callous disregard for human life”
                                                                                            ii.      Should have known that it could have killed someone
                                 viii.            Depending on the jurisdiction, criminally negligent homicide can occur through gross negligence or ordinary negligence…may also depend on the circumstances (i.e. driving vs. caring for a child, etc.)
a.       Very rare for ordinary negligence to be able to lead to manslaughter
d.       Depraved Heart Murder
                              i.            Differs from involuntary manslaughter because depraved heart murder requires malice aforethought
                             ii.            Some courts that don’t require subjective appreciation of risk for involuntary manslaughter will require if for depraved heart murder
                           iii.            Risk must be outrageous; most courts consider the number of people subjected to the risk to be relevant
                           iv.            Depraved heart murder is a type of implied malice
a.       Step up from involuntary manslaughter; similar to M2