Criminal Law Outline Fall 2007
I: Basics of Criminal Court
Standard is Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (PBRD)
a. Each element in crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt
b. In Re Winship case: that even in juvenile court need PBRD because:
i. Defendant faces loss of liberty
1. Harlan says that there is greater social disutility for convicting innocent man than letting guilty go free.
ii. Defendant faces stigmatization-loss of good name
iii. Criminal Court needs moral force of law (respect and confidence of the community)
c. Strict liability does not to prove mens rea. Whether you need mental element is determined if the punishment cause:
i. Loss of liberty
ii. Stigmitization with conviction/punishment
1. Much easier to prove if no mental state element.
iii. Much easier to prove actus rea if no mens rea element
Basis for criminal appeals
a. Sufficiency of Evidence (evidence not sufficient so that no reasonable jury can find beyond a reasonable doubt on each element)
b. Admission/Exclusion of Evidence (including constit. challenges)
c. Jury Instructions given/not given
i. Judge decides matter of law; jury decides matters of fact.
d. Other issues of conduct (prosecutorial misconduct)
i. Needs to be on record so that you can appeal
Theories of Punishment
i. Prof believes we need to look at criminal justice system and see how we treat people that we hate.
i. Regina v. Dudley and Stevens case where stranded sailors murdered companion to survive (was customary) who was going to die anyway and without eating him they would all die. Convicted. What theory of punishment used? Retrubitive, deterrence (for other sailors)
Principal of Legality
a. No punishment without law- “nulla poena, sine lege”
i. Based on principles of separation of powers (legislature makes the law).
Lawrence v. Texas sodomy case.
Procedural due process-deal with this normally, police procedure
II: Actus Rea (physical) + Mens Rea (mental) +Attending Circumstances (events that surround act) + Causation= Crime
A. Actus Rea (verb)
a. Requires Voluntary Act
i. E.g. Police dragging drunk guy to highway and charging him with being disorderly is not allowed. He had no choice.
b. Requires Conscious Act
i. Prosecution needs to prove he was conscious beyond reasonable doubt.
1. e.g. Newton says he was unconscious when he shot cop after being shot himself. Challenged jury instructions
a. Psychologist testified.
c. Requires act or omission when there is law, contract, or status
1. e.g. woman put in charge of another child didn’t feed him and child died. She would only be guilty if she had a legal duty.
e.g. Woman who saw another woman in her house beat her child to death and did nothing. She did not have legal duty to do anything so not guilty.