CRIMINAL LAW OUTLINE
A. OVERVIEW OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Four Phases of a Trial:
1. Factors: sometimes, when a person wants to press charges, availability of evidence, your available resources, how serious the crime is.
2. If police refuse to investigate crime, you can sue party civilly, appeal to the political process and get a new law passed (political response), you can sue the police (very hard, typically for some kind of discrimination).
3. If police decides to investigate, brings to station, and booked. Minor crime – let out on “station house bail”, sometimes put in lockup
1. Prosecutor decides to bring charge, great amount of discretion. (3-Strikes law: the 3rd strike doesn’t have to be a serious felony).
2. Constraints: Professional rules of conduct, ethical requirements, ABA, California BAR,
i. For charging in FED and CA – “probable cause”- (evidentiary standard) à Reasonable grounds that person committed or is committing a crime.
ii. For Conviction at Trial à Proof beyond Reasonable Doubt to convict.)
Prosecutors can file formal charges only after they have obtained 1 out of 2 sources of approval:
1. Grand Jury Indictment – Fed gov. and some states require prosecutors to obtain indictment from grand jury (private citizens gathered to review just charging decisions…trad, 23 citzens, some states, smaller..most states, Maj. Vote)
a. Standard of probable cause. Issue a “true bill” and case proceeds to trial.
b. Prosecutor meets in private with grand jury, no defense counsel, no judge. Is it really a constraint on state power: not really
2. Prelim Hearing – 2/3 of all states, prosecutor files a complaint directly with court, court reviews complaint in prelim hearing. Court provides a check, a “mini trial”, both sides present argument before a judge.
a. Protections are much less than at trial. You can include “hearsay” evidence – what they heard other people said, (jon says sam said blah).
1. Arraignment – Defendant asked to plead guilty/ no guilty. Court typically encourages plea negotiations at this point. (All trials, Plea negotiations 95% guilty pleas).
2. Division of duties:
tered discretion in sentencing. Now much more law.
**Only in DEATH PENALTY do juries play a role in determining sentences.
HOW DO YOU INTERPRET STATUTES?
Decisions of some jurisdictions
“stare decisis” (follow what has been decided before)
Rules of Statutory Construction
Rule of Lenity – If ambiguous, read the statute in a way that benefits the defendants.
Other courts and commentators
**Most courts say that when you’re completely lost as to how to interpret a statute, you interpret in defendant’s favor.
B. THE PURPOSEs OF PUNISHMENT
QUEEN v DUDLEY & STEPHENS
Background – Dudley, Stephens, Brooks, Parker castaway in a storm, floating in an open boat for 20 days in total. Dudley then decided to kill the boy, Brooks still dissented. Parker didn’t have children or wife, so they decided to kill him. Eating him, they survived.
Issue: Is there a necessity defense to murder? Rule: No necessity defense to murder. Process must be fair