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Criminal Law
St. Johns University School of Law
DeGirolami, Marc O.

  Criminal Law Outline – Prof. DeGirolami – Spring 2010
       I.            Crime – conduct which will incur formal pronouncement of the moral condemnation of the community; plus punishment. Causes social harm – violation of public rights/duties to community.
                                                              i.      Result Crime – ultimate purpose to prevent harmful result IE murder.
                                                            ii.      Conduct Crime – purpose to prevent conduct IE drunk driving.
b.      “Probable Cause” necessary to make an arrest – substantial chance suspect committed offense.
c.       Indictment – states all charges against D.
d.      Sources of Law
                                                              i.      Legislature – writes laws ex ante (unlike judiciary); hypothetical cases; general terms
1.      Four conditions for general direction to work:
a.       Know of existence and contents
b.      Know of circumstances of fact to which abstract terms applicable in the particular instance.
c.       Be able to comply with direction.
d.      Be willing to comply.
                                                            ii.      Model Penal Code (MPC)
e.       Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt – standard of proof required to convict of a crime. “near-certitude,” “very high level of probability.”
                                                              i.      Prosecution (Pr) proves guilt/every element of the offense; D does not need prove innocence, but needs to prove affirmative defenses.
                                                            ii.      Winship – presumption of innocence doctrine based on Due Process Clause – check on state power to protect individual liberty.
                                                          iii.      Owens – (drunk sitting in car in driveway. Guilty) – Inference based on circumstantial evidence can be used to convict.
f.       Right to Trial by Jury (6th Amend.)
                                                              i.      For all non-petty offenses – where imprisonment for 6+ mo. authorized.
                                                            ii.      Most states require unanimity.
                                                          iii.      Jury must consist of fair cross-section of community.
g.      Jury Nullification – jury ignores facts/jury instructions (that would lead to conviction) and acquits the D.
                                                              i.      Justification: “Conscience of the Community” IE Zenger; protect against gov oppression.
                                                            ii.      Voi doire – process of jury selection; Discharge Motion – discharge juror b4 deliberations if evidence she intends to nullify law.
                                                          iii.      Jury not required to explain its verdict.
                                                          iv.      Double Jeopardy – cannot be tried for same crime twice. So, Pr cannot appeal, only D can appeal. 
1.      Sparf – D has no right to instruct jury of right to nullify; jury nullification has gone underground.
2.      Ragland – “Must” v. “May” find guilty. Use of must doesn’t violate 6th Amend.
3.      Race-based Jury Nullification – (Prof. Butler) – for non-violent, victimless crimes, blacks should be acquitted.
    II.            Punishment
a.       Theories of Justification – taking one’s life, liberty, property need be justified to be legit.
                                                              i.      Utilitarian – Dominant in U.S.
1.      Justification for punishment lies in useful purpose/consequences of punishment; otherwise, punishment merely a mischief. (Jeremy Bentham)
a.       Maximize pleasure, minimize pain.
b.      Grater good for greatest number.
c.       Deterrence (Kent Greenawalt)
                                                                                                                                      i.      General – one’s punishment deters others
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Individual – prevent repeat offenses
1.      Incapacitation – phys prevent
d.      Reform – rehab; make one wish to commit fewer crimes.
2.      Rule Utilitarianism – rule is right when it brings about greater utility.
                                                            ii.      Retributive (Michael Moore)
1.      Justification: Moral culpability; getting “just deserts;” guilt sufficient.
2.      Society has duty to punish those who deserve it.
a.       Assaultive Retributivism – treat criminals w/ hatred thru punish.
b.      Protective Retributivism – criminals feel need to pay back debt.
                                                                                                                                      i.      (Hampton & Morris) – crim needs to be subjugated back to level of social equality, which he took away by committing crime.
b.      Who gets punished: Criminal responsibility – when D caused/assisted in causing social harm.
c.       Extent of punishment
1.      Felony – punishable by death or imprisonment in state prison.
2.      Misdemeanor – punishable by fine or incarceration in local jail.
                                                            ii.      Decreased normal sentence
1.      Dudley – lost at sea – wrongfulness v. culpability.
2.      Du – young girl in store – MPC not meant for D given circumstances.
                                                          iii.      Indeterminate Sentencing – judge has broad sentencing discretion. (Abandoned through statute).
                                                          iv.      Restorative Justice – restoring losses.
1.      Used in special relationships.
2.      IE assisting victims get closure via mediation.
                                                            v.      Shaming –
1.      Gementera – D stole mail –
2.      Shaming may be okay if: 1) conditions imposed for purpose of rehab/deterrence, and 2) conditions related to purpose of Act.
                                                          vi.      Proportionality
1.      Penalty must be severe enough to outweigh gain from criminal act.
And, the greater the mischief, the greater the offense, the greater the punishment.
2.      Disp

imary and secondary dictionary definitions.
2.      Etymological dictionary – history of word.
                                                            ii.      Principles of Common Law – require mental element (mens rea); if offense does not require mental state, it will be disfavored.
                                                          iii.      Interpretive Canons – look at interpretive tools to determine meaning.
1.      Legislative Intent- purpose of statute; social interest at stake.
2.      Impari Materi – “by comparison w/ other equal materials.” Examine how other statutes use a word.
                                                          iv.      Rule of Lenity – last resort.
   IV.            Actus Reus
a.       Definition: The 1) voluntary act that 2) causes the 3) social harm. (phys./external part of crime.)
b.      Voluntariness requirement – an act and its voluntary nature (bodily movement willed by actor) (Utter)
                                                              i.      Does not mean: something is involuntary b/c actor unaware they are doing it.
1.      IE habitual acts are voluntary – lighting cig, driving moves – person does not consciously think about it but wills it nonetheless.
                                                            ii.      Involuntary ‘act’- IE spasm, force by third party not punishable, seizure, unconscious movement, drug-addicts etc.
1.      Martin – drunk man dragged from home by police to public place where charged w/ public drunkenness.
                                                          iii.      Rationale –
1.      Cannot deter the unwilling. BUT, see exceptions below – can make ppl change their behaviors.
2.      Cannot morally blame some1 who did not act of free choice.
                                                          iv.      Exceptions:
1.      Time-Framing Issue – where an otherwise involuntary act becomes voluntary.
a.       No need to show that every part of act/last act was voluntary; only that relevant conduct included voluntary act.
b.      Line hard to draw. Courts determine how broad/narrow to construe time-frame.
                                                                                                                                      i.      IE seizure-prone man does not take meds (volun) and has seizure (involun) while driving . (Decina – crim negligence).
2.      Voluntariness of getting drunk can later create voluntariness.
3.      Violations – minor offenses where penalty is a fine – are usually strict liability and do not require actus reus.