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Criminal Law
Temple University School of Law
Natali, Louis M.

 
Criminal Law
Fall 2015
Professor Natali
 
Actus Reus + Mens Rea + Attendant Circumstances + Causation
 
1.      Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt (BRD)
a.       In re Winship US Supreme Court, 1970 (Due Process requires proof BRD for all elements of crime)
b.      Definition: If you have a doubt for which you can give a (good) reason
c.       Reduces risk of factual error
d.      Important because
                                                              i.      Loss of liberty
                                                            ii.      Stigma of conviction
                                                          iii.      Loss of employment, voting rights, student loans, housing, etc.
e.       P must prove ALL elements of the crime BRD
                                                              i.      Actus reus, mens rea, attendant circumstances, causation
                                                            ii.      Defenses, confessions, other non-elements don’t require BRD
f.       Two components
                                                              i.      Burden of production of evidence
                                                            ii.      Burden of persuasion
g.      D’s burden of proof
                                                              i.      Affirmative defenses (Insanity, etc.)
                                                            ii.      Interesting argument
1.      If State can redefine element to be an “affirmative defense,” can’t they just shift burden of proof making it easier to convict?
2.      Punishment’s Purpose
a.       Utilitarian (Jeremy Bentham)
                                                              i.      Goal
1.      Maximally augment total happiness of community
2.      “Pain and pleasure are the great springs of human action”
                                                            ii.      Types
1.      Rehabilitation
2.      Incapacitation
3.      Deterrence
a.       Regina v Dudley and Stevens (Necessity not a defense)
b.      Retributive (Kant)
                                                              i.      Desert (“Just deserts”)
                                                            ii.      Negative retributivism: Only the guilty may be punished
                                                          iii.      Positive “: The guilty must be punished
                                                          iv.      Cousins of retribution
1.      Retaliation and vengeance
a.       Problem: How do we handle punishing unexpected harm?
b.      Problem: Victim impact statements (Payne v. Tennessee)
2.      Social cohesion
c.       Mixed theories
                                                              i.      Predominate
3.      Definition of Crimes
a.       Considerations
                                                              i.      Legality (Aim)
                                                            ii.      Culpability (Distribution)
                                                          iii.      Proportionality (Degree)
b.      “Nulla poene sine lege”
c.       A crime can be statutory or common law
                                                              i.      Some old common law crimes like larceny have been implemented in statutes, but not everywhere or always
                                                            ii.      However, most States (PA included) have abolished common-law doctrine allowing courts to create new crimes
d.      People should have notice that certain acts are a crime
                                                              i.      This is a danger of defining crimes at common law
1.      Commonwealth v. Mochan (Offending public morality a crime)
e.       Statutory interpretation
                                                              i.      Considerations
1.      Plain meaning
a.       Preferred method (McBoyle v US, plane not a “motor vehicle”)
2.      Canons of construction
a.       Lists and other associated terms
                                                                                                                                      i.      noscitur a sociis
                                                                                                                                    ii.      ejusdem generis
b.      Statutory structure
c.       Statutory amendment
3.      Legislative history
                                                            ii.      Plain language interpretation should be used
                                                          iii.      Rule of lenity
1.      Ambiguous statutes resolved in favor of defendant (US v. Dauray, “container” of child pornography ambiguous)
4.      Actus Reus
a.       Actus reus requires a voluntary, conscious act
                                                              i.      Every element of the crime must be voluntary and conscious [double-check this] (Martin v. State)
                                                            ii.      Unconsciousness is a complete defense (People v. Newton)
                                                          iii.      Regular, unthinking action satisfies actus reus
                

    MPC§2.02(7): Knowledge can be “Acting w/ awareness of a high probability”
1.      Supreme Court requires deliberate actions to avoid learning the truth – not expressly required by MPC.
f.       Recklessness
                                                              i.      3 Factors
1.      Risk or nature of the risk
2.      Awareness of the risk
a.       Intoxication not defense against appreciating risk in negligence – MPC §2.08(2)
3.      Justification of conduct
a.       Usually not a question
                                                            ii.      Key cases: Regina v. Cunningham, Regina v. Faulkner
g.      Negligence: Criminal v. Civil
                                                              i.      Criminal: “Substantial and unjustifiable risk … gross deviation from reasonable” [behavior]. (State v. Hazelwood)
                                                            ii.      Gramatically, MPC requires knowledge of risk, that it’s substantial and that it’s unjustifiable
h.      Mistake (MPC§2.04)
                                                              i.      Mistake of fact can negate mens rea
1.      Mistake NOT need be reasonable – MPCComm.§2.04
                                                            ii.      Mistake might not negate element that has no mens rea
                                                          iii.      Mistake of law – ie, ignorance of law – not excuse in most cases
                                                          iv.      Lesser Included Offense (LIO)
1.      If you mistakenly believe you’re committing lesser crime, MPC §2.04(2) says you’re charged with lesser crime
i.        Strict Liability
                                                              i.      Mistake of fact not negate strict liability crimes
                                                            ii.      Crimes almost never expressly say there’s no mens rea
                                                          iii.      Usually, but not always, a relatively light penalty – misdemeanor
Considerations in determining whether strict liability