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Criminal Law
South Texas College of Law Houston
Wheeler, Michael E.

I. Criminalization, Definition and Classification
a. Nature and Purpose of Criminal Law
i. 4 components (besides strict liability)
1. Mens Rea (mental)
2. Actus Reus (unlawful action)
3. Concurrence between the two
4. Causation beyond a reasonable doubt
b. Classification
i. Three major groups in common law:
1. Treason
2. Felony
3. Misdemeanor
ii. Petty offenses: a misdemeanor punishable by not more than 6 months imprisonment
iii. Infraction is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 days and a fine of up to $5000 and is also a petty offense
iv. Stave v. Perry
1. D’s room had two windows that faced a sidewalk that employees from a local plant would pass on their way to work. Several young ladies have accused him of indecent exposure for two different occasions. He claims it was carelessness.
2. Mens Rea decision: deliberately or intending to be indecent or lude
a. Court finds it to be carelessness and negligence
3. Marshall the evidence, so that there is a standard, that the judge/jury can compare this man’s intention. Establish the mindset by marshalling evidence, to build an argument to the judge/jury so that they feel comfortable that all elements have been satisfied.
v. People v. Kohrig
1. Ds have 4 cases of traffic citation for violation of the safety belt laws. They claim that this statute violates the due process clause of the constitution because if violates (1) right to privacy and it goes beyond (2) the police power of the legislature. The state claims that this statute promotes public safety and that is helps economically because it reduces the costs of serious injuries in car accidents.
2. Primarily state and federal constitutions controls the discretion of legislative power
3. Constitutionality of the statute? (Note state vs. federal const.)
4. A statute that violates a right to privacy (as well as other rights provided by the constitution) may be upheld if it upholds a compelling state interest and the state is narrowly drawn to achieve that interest
a. However, rights may be considered fundamental
b. Supreme court says: personal intimacies of the home, the family, marriage, motherhood, procreation, and child rearing

5. The state’s police power must have a rational basis and not be arbitrary or discriminatory or violate a fundamental right
a. Police power may be used to promote economic welfare of the state. Must be for the public interest and promo

1. Wrong because legislatures have prohibited the conduct
2. Not wrong in and of itself
iii. Distinction between misdemeanors and felonies is normally to do with punishment
iv. Court jurisdiction may come to play in deal with types of crimes
1. Other procedural differences
2. Holding public office
3. Arresting
4. Voting
5. Grounds for divorce
v. Infamous vs. Non-infamous cases
1. Nature of offense not of the punishment
2. Common Law
a. Infamous could not be a witness
3. “infamous” – felony
4. “non-infamous” – misdemeanor
II. Mens Rea
a. Responsibility means answerability or accountability
i. Criminal responsibility is answerability to the criminal law
ii. No one is answerable to the criminal for the consequences not legally imputable to him
iii. But, someone can have committed a crime, but will not be held responsible due to certain circumstances.
“Criminal intent” is often used to express the requirement of blameworthiness