a. All crimes have a physical and mental dimension.
i. Physical: Actus Reus
2. Attendant Circumstance
ii. Mental: Mens Rea (intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, negligently)
b. Crimes Code
i. Started as common law, codified.
ii. Self-referential; most statutes have a definition section and everything necessary is somewhere within the code.
iii. Model Penal Code
1. Created in the 1950s and 1960s.
2. Forty states have adopted or modified their own codes voluntarily.
c. Thoughts alone are not punished; an act or omission is needed.
d. Objectives of Crimes Code
i. Set standards for appropriate behavior
ii. Prescribes punishment objectives
iii. Gives advance warning to public as to what conduct is punishable
1. No punishment in the absence of a law
2. Must be a statute making act illegal and prescribing punishment
e. Elements of a Crime
i. A voluntary act
ii. A culpable intent
iii. Concurrence between the mens rea and actus reus
iv. Causation (where there exists a result element)
v. Actus Reus + Mens Rea = Crime (-justification or excuse)
f. Malum in se v. Malum prohibitum
i. Malum in se
1. Bad in itself
a. goes against social norms/what society thinks is wrong
ii. Malum prohibitum
1. Bad because it is prohibited
II. Theories of Punishment
i. A crime is defined by a punishment. Without a punishment, there is no crime.
ii. Standards for punishment reflect community values.
1. Degree of consequences
2. Degree of severity
3. Community specific concerns
i. Pay debt to society to restore moral equilibrium to the community
1. Unlike other objectives, which try to make society better for the future, it’s about setting right the past.
2. Requires wrongdoing and blameworthiness.
3. E.g. killing is always wrong, but under certain circumstances it is allowed. Only punish if it is blameworthy.
4. E.g. a fine: punitive objective, compensation heals the community rather than the individual.
i. Rooted in the benefit to community; not blameworthiness. Benefits of punishment must outweigh the co
of the actor who would not have gone through with the act.
e. No adverse impact on society.
f. Retributive: without harm there is no reason to punish.
g. Utilitarian: costs outweigh benefits of punishing before wrongful act occurs in most cases.
x. When we intervene:
1. Costs to society escalates after each step.
a. People won’t always act rationally.
b. Susan decides to cut. Susan tells friend. Susan cuts book. Once Susan has a weapon, the risks faced by an apprehender are greater than the previous step.
2. Preemptive measure
a. intervene when information becomes available. In serious offenses, the benefits of intervening at this point often outweigh the costs.
d. Jury Nullification
i. Even if the defendant satisfies all of the elements of a crime, the jury always has the option of a jury nullification. This is the power to acquit for any reason, even if evidence is to the contrary.
1. Only applies to acquitting, not to convicting.
ii. This is about the forest and the trees.
1. trees approach: break down the offense into its elements and examine the facts to see whether each element is satisfied in physical dimension and mental dimension