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Criminal Law
St. Johns University School of Law
Chiu, Elaine M.

Criminal Law
Spring 2016
Theories of Punishment
Purposes and Goals
Specific – Individualized message to an individual to act differently if that same situation rises again.
General – A general message to others as a whole demonstrating the consequences of not abiding by the law.
– Removal of a person completely from society so that they are not able to be placed in the same situation so that they don't even have the chance to commit the same crime.
Rehabilitation – something that is done during incap to teach those why they were wrong and to change their values to fit societies values of non criminal behaviors.
Theories of Sentencing
prevent or deter future crime. The more aggravated the crime the greater the punishment should be to encourage the minimization of crime.
always be greater than the profit of the criminals crime.
NEVER be excessive. It should be proportional to the crime.
8th Amendment – Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. (Kennedy’s principle: Does NOT require STRICT proportionality, only that the punishment not be GROSSLY unproportionate)
Solem’s Test for Proportionality
The gravity of the offense and the severity of the punishment
The sentences imposed on other criminals in the same jurisdiction
The sentences imposed for the same crime in other jurisdictions.
Coker v. Georgia – Punishment is excessive and unconstitutional if
It makes no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment and hence is nothing more than the purposeful and needless imposition of pain and suffering OR
It is grossly out of proportion to the severity of the crime.
Retributivism – What is the nature of the choice that the criminal made?
Positive Retributivism – MUST punish guilty people.
Stephen – (Condemnation theory) Punishment is meant to CONDEMN. Criminals DESERVE to be punished. Deters private vengeance and sends symbolic message of general deterrence.
Morris – (Protective theory) Criminals have the RIGHT to be punished. Restores moral equilibrium to society.
Hampton – (Victim Theory) Restores equilibrium between the victim and criminal, thereby reaffirming the value of the victim.
Negative Retributivism – NEVER punish an innocent person. Focuses on the nature of the CHOICE of the crime. Punishment because criminals need to and deserve to be punished. Focuses on the choices in front of the person at the time of the crime.
Theories of Sentencing
Internal Factors – sentencing must be proportional to the moral culpability of the wrongdoer
External Factors – sentencing must be proportional to the act in comparison to all other criminal acts and their respective effects. Focuses to the social crime caused by the crime.
Goals of Sentencing (People v. Du)
Protect Society – Utilitarian combines both specific and general deterrence
Punishing the defendant for committing the crime (Stephen) – retributivist
Encouraging defendant to lead a law abiding life (Specific Deterrence/Rehabilitation)
To deter Others (General Deterrence)
To isolate defendant so they cannot commit other crimes (incapacitation/maybe rehabilitation)
To secure restitution for the victim (Hampton)
To seek uniformity of sentencing
Defining and interpreting Crimes
Types of Offenses
Traffic Infractions
Role of Judiciary
Interpret and apply crim

c voluntary is NOT free will.That man trespassed under duress/police orders is immaterial to the q of actus reus.
– Connection between the voluntary act and the result.
– Action causes result. All actual causation is proximate cause.
But for – But for the defendant’s conduct, the result would not have occurred as it did and when it did. Making someone die more painfully is NOT but-for.
Hypo – If D1 approaches V and shoots them in the leg wounding them in a way that would cause V to bleed out and die in 20 mins. Immediately afterward, D2 walks up and shoots V in the head killing V instantly. D1 was NOT the but-for cause of V’s death.
Substantial Factor – Used to find liability for multiple concurrent sufficient but-for factors.
– Hypo – Defendant shoots an arrow at victim, striking him in the heart. At exactly the same moment, a grenade thrown by Killer explodes next to Victim’s left ear, blowing off Victim’s head. Either event (arrow wound or grenade explosion) was alone sufficient to instantly kill Victim. It cannot be said that but-for Defendant’s act, Victim would still be alive, since the grenade would have killed Victim anyway. Nevertheless, Defendant’s arrow shot is an actual cause of Victim’s death.
– As one of the actual causes, it is determined to be accountable for the resulting social harm. Must be a REASONABLE link between the cause and the result.