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

Criminal Outline


A. Actus Reus = guilty act.
3 types:
(1) Conduct = voluntary act (ex: not paying taxes)
(2) Circumstance = by statute (ex: statutory rape)
(3) Result = end result makes it a crime (ex: murder must end in a death)
· Verbal acts are sufficient.
B. Mens Rea = guilty mind; culpable mental state.
· Intent = desires a result or has knowledge that the result is substantially likely to occur.
· Motive = the underlying reason for committing a crime; evidence of mens rea.
· Doctrine of Transferred Intent: (1) there must be some connection b/w the 2 crimes (2) intention to commit a crime that is malum prohibitum will not transfer to a crime that is malum in se.
C. Causation
· Actual (but for/cause in fact)
· Proximate (legal cause/puts a limit on but for); foreseeable; no intervening cause; is it reasonable to hold D to the result?
· Superseding = a cause that is independent, intervening, and unforeseeable.
· Categories of Causation:
(1) D causes harm & exaggerates a pre-existing injury > causation.
(2) Victim responds to conditions unlawfully created by D > intervening.
(3) Acts of non-human agencies > intervening.
(4) Acts of 3rd persons > intervening.

TX PENAL CODE: 6.04 (Causation)
· The result would not have occurred “but for” D’s conduct.
· Except: When there is a concurrent cause that could have produced the result alone.

D. Problems Defining Criminal Conduct

Common Law
· General Intent = an intention to do the prohibited act, but not necessarily to accomplish a wrongful result; mental state regarding the criminal act.
· Specific Intent = an intent to accomplish a certain particular wrongful result other than just doing the act itself; mental state in addition to the act itself (a particular result).
· General intent can be presumed from the facts, specific intent cannot.
· Specific Intent Crimes: Burglary, attempt, forgery, false pretenses, larceny, embezzlement, premeditated murder, assault, conspiracy & solicitation, and kidnapping for ransom.

Model Penal Code
4 mental states hierarchy:
(1) Purpose = a person’s conscious objective is either to engage in certain behavior or cause a certain result. (subjective)
(2) Knowledge = when a person knows the nature of his conduct and he knows his conduct will cause a certain result. (subjective)
(3) Recklessness = Did the person undertake a substantial and unjustifiable risk? (objective); Did the person consciously disregard the risk? (subjective)
(4) Negligence = when a person unreasonably risks that t material element exists or will result from his conduct. (objective)

· Tort = a civil wrong committed against an individual.
· Crime = a public wrong committed against the state.
· Felony = crime punishable by either imprisonment exceeding 1 year or by death.
Common Law Felonies: murder, manslau

Weapon Doctrine: Use of a deadly weapon presumes intent.**

**When does life occur? TX PENAL CODE: 1.07 (A human being who has been born alive.)

A. Common Law Murder = an unlawful killing w/ malice aforethought (= mens rea = intent to kill; intent to do serious bodily injury; depraved heart/extremely reckless murder; felony murder).
· Mens rea
· Actus reus: Voluntary act
· Actus reus: Causing the death of a person (death = cessation of heartbeat OR brain death.)
· Actus reus: Where death occurs w/in a year and a day (becoming obsolete)
1. 1st Degree Murder
· Premeditation & Deliberation
· Felony Murder (rape, robbery, burglary, or arson)
· Murder by poison, torture, or lying in wait
· (Evidence: motive, planning activities, and the nature of the homicide.)
2. Euthanasia = mercy killing; murder 1.
3. 2nd Degree Murder
· Depraved Heart
· Felony Murder (all other felonies)
4. “Depraved Heart” Murders
· Where the D voluntarily engages in extremely negligent conduct
· Which a reasonable person would realize creates a very high degree of risk to human life
· Which results in death
(Intent to