Criminal Law- O’Brien Fall 2015
I. Crime and Punishment: What do we punish and Why?
a. The Power to Punish
1. My Life as a Slave
2. Lawrence v. Texas
b. The Aims of Punishment
1. Regina v. Dudley and Stevens
a. Crew members ate another man to survive
b. The defense of necessity does not justify homicide unless the killing was committed in self-defense.
2. United States v. Bernard Madoff
a. Ponzi scheme
b. Symbolism plays an important role in both the retribution and deterrence contexts when choosing a proper criminal sentence
3. United States v. Jackson
a. Robbed a bank 30 minutes after being released from a previous sentence
b. The selection of a sentence within a statutory range is free of appellate review
4. United States v. Gementera
a. Stole mail from mailboxes
b. Conditions of supervised release, including those that cause shame or embarrassment, imposed upon offenders by a district court do not violate the sentencing reform act if they are reasonably related to the statutory purposes of deterrence, protection of the public, and the legitimate purpose of rehabilitation.
c. Sources of the Criminal Sanction: Common Law and Statutes
1. Commonwealth v. Mochan
a. Lew, immoral phone calls to a woman
b. Any lawful act which directly injures or tends to injure the public morals or health of the community is indictable.
2. McBoyle v. United States
a. ∆ convicted of transporting an airplane from Illinois to Oklahoma that he knew was stolen.
b. An airplane is not a “vehicle” within the meaning of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act
3. United States v. Dauray
a. ∆ was indicted for possession of child pornography for having 13 unbound pictures of children from magazines
b. In a criminal prosecution the rule of lenity requires that ambiguities in the statute be resolved in the defendant’s favor to ensure the defendant received fair warning of the conduct covered by the statute pursuant to due process requirements.
II. Defining Criminal Conduct: The Elements of a Crime
a. Actus Reus-Culpable Conduct
i. Voluntary Act
a. Martin v. State
i. ∆ arrested by officers and taken to highway where he was charged with being drunk in public
ii. Criminal liability may only be imposed when the unlawful conduct is committed voluntarily
b. People v. Newton
i. ∆ shot in stomach, then shot officer. Said he didn’t know what he was doing
ii. Where not self-induced, as by voluntary intoxication, unconsciousness is a complete defense to a charge of criminal homicide.
2. MPC §
a. Jones v. United States
i. Involuntary manslaughter for not caring for her child
ii. A failure to act may result in criminal liability only where a statute imposes a duty of care, where one person stands in a certain status relation to another, where one has assumed a contractual duty of care for another, and where one person has voluntarily assumed care of another and so secluded the helpless person as to prevent other from rendering aid.
b. Pope v. State
i. Religious frenzy, beat child to death, Pope did nothing
ii. Criminal liability may not be imposed upon an individual for failing to fulfill a moral, instead of legal, obligation.
iii. Distinguishing Acts and Omissions
a. Barber v. Superior Court
i. Doctor removed respirator and took patient off life support
ii. A physician is under no legal duty to continue futile life-sustaining support absent objection from a spouse and the withdrawal of such life-sustaining support with the consent of a spouse does not support a charge of murder
b. Mens Rea- Culpable Intent
require mens rea to be proven at trial
c. Morissette v. United States
i. Scrap metal junk dealer took casings off of an air force bombing range and sold them
ii. Acts which are bad in themselves, including larceny, require the element of mens rea and any similar strict liability statute will not be construed as eliminating the mens rea element.
d. State v. Guminga
i. Bartender sold drink to minor and the owner of the bar was charged with a violation of state law which imposed vicarious liability on an employer whose employee served intoxicating liquor to a minor.
ii. It is a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, for an individual to be convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for an act he did not commit, did not have knowledge of, or give expressed or implied consent to the commission thereof.
e. State v. Baker
i. ∆ speeding.
ii. Evidence of an unpreventable, involuntary act, resulting in an unforeseen occurrence or circumstance may constitute a valid defense to an absolute liability criminal offense.
f. Regina v. City of Sault Ste. Marie
i. A third category of offenses should exist between traditional criminal offenses and absolute liability offenses, namely public welfare offenses where the mere act is a violating and there is no requirement for the prosecution to prove a defendant’s mens rea.