Select Page

Criminal Law
UMKC School of Law
Berger, Mark

Criminal Law Outline
Fully Stated Rule of Criminal Liability
A person is not guilty of an offense unless her conduct, which must include a voluntary act, and which must be accompanied by a culpable state of mind (the mens rea of the offense), is the actual and proximate cause of the social harm as proscribed by the offense.
1.    Actus Reus
There must be a voluntary actus reus for every crime
Def.- physical or external portion of the crime
–         has no clear single accepted meaning
Actus Reus contains 3 parts of a crime
1.    A voluntary act or omission of a legal duty
2.    That causes
3.    Social Harm
-the act is a physical movement (pull trigger, turn the key, etc.)
-the term act excludes all mental processes
2 aspects of the tem “Act”
1.    Not applied to the results of an individuals movements
2.    The act must be voluntary
Questionable voluntary acts:
1.    Conduct that is not the product of your own volition
2.    Reflexive or convulsive act
3.    Act performed while unconscious or asleep i.e. “sleepwalking” not falling asleep @ the wheel
MPC on Actus Reus
-Provides that no person may be convicted of a crime in the absence of conduct that “includes a voluntary act or the omission to perform an act of which he is physically capable.” Possession is an act under the MPC.
-not every moral obligation to act creates a legal duty
-subject to a very few exceptions people have no legal duty to help or rescue someone in need
Legal Duty to act may arise in 1 of 5 circumstances:
1.    By statute
2.    By contract “lifeguard or nurse”
3.    Relationship between parties (spouse or parent).
4.    Where one has voluntarily assumed care of another and so secluded the other from others rendering aid.
5.    Where your conduct created the peril
MPC on Duty
-if the law defining the offense provides for it, or if the duty to act is otherwise imposed by statute
2. Mens Rea
2 meanings
1.    (broad) General immorality of moti

n, because there needs to be no intent
** Test Tip: Stay far away from the argument that the victim consented. Never a good defense in US
Transferred intent: Some courts have applied when one intends injury to a person with sufficient mens rea, and in an effort to accomplish that crime he inflicts harm upon someone else, he is guilty as if he had been accurate.
MPC on levels of culpability
Levels of culpability
1.    Purpose or Intent
2.    Knowledge
3.    Recklessness
4.    Negligence
AR                   AC                   Result
Purpose: -intended conduct       -aware of circ.              -intended result
                   -conscious object.            -hopes circ. exist    -conscious object.
Knowledge:     -aware of conduct           -aware circ. exist    -substantial