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Criminal Law
University of California, Hastings School of Law
Diamond, John L.

Criminal Law Fall 2016 Diamond

Voluntary Acts:

MPC: Voluntary acts are NOT:

1. Reflex or convulsion,
2. Bodily movement during unconsciousness or sleep, c
3. Conduct during hypnosis or resulting from hypnotic suggestion, and
4. A bodily movement that otherwise is not a product of the effort or determination of the actor who is either conscious or doing something habitual.
Liability may not be based on an omission unaccompanied by action unless: the omission is expressly made sufficient by the law defining the offense or a duty to perform the omitted act is otherwise imposed by law.

Not guilty unless liability is based on conduct that includes a voluntary act or the omission to perform an act of which he was physically capable.

Common Law: all common law crimes require act or omission and mens rea while criminal liability only requires the act be voluntary.

Involuntary Acts

Case Ex (1988): Drove 14 miles and murdered mother-in-law and assaulted father-in-law. Found not guilty because it was involuntary.

Defendant guilty when he knew he was prone to attacks and still drove.

If truly hypnotized not voluntary, but it would be hard to convince jury of this.

Liability may not be based on an omission unaccompanied by action unless
Possession as an act

If the possessor knowingly procured or received the thing possessed or was aware of his control thereof for a sufficient period to have terminated the possession then they are guilty of possession. If you didn’t know they you aren’t guilty of possession.


A legal duty to act, where failure to act can lead to criminal liability can be created by:
If there is no legal duty to act, then you are not criminally liable for a failure to act
Model Penal Code: unless the omission is expressly made sufficient by the law defining the offense a duty to perform the omitted act must have been otherwise imposed by law for the omission to result in criminal liability.
Ex of Failure to Act Under MPC:

Jones v. US:

Mother didn’t feed child properly. Mother said she was under no legal obligation and no evidence she didn’t feed him.
Guilty of found guilty of manslaughter of child because of her omission to feed her child.

Liability for Omission:

A defendant may be convicted for an omission to act if:

The defendant was under a to care for the victim,
The defendant was in a sufficiently with the victim,

The defendant agreed to provide care for the victim, or

Voluntary Acts and discontinuing places victim in worse position
Creation of peril
duties to visitors and those adjacent to the land
Duty to control (children and employees)

Parent and Child Relationship

Creates duty to care for and protect kids (provide medical care, etc.). can also create a duty to act to protect society from the child. I.E. backlash from Columbine massacre.

Omission by Police

Often can’t prosecute cops for not stepping in and helping, even when cop is on duty. Don’t have an obligation to help (in some states).

Misprision of Felony

Failure to report a felony. Federal statutes require that the defendant took affirmative steps to conceal the crime.
New in Nevada after that creepy guy didn’t report his friend for molesting and killing a 6 year old in a bathroom. David Cash Murder- would have been charged under common law though.

ble of asportation. Some statutes now make it a crime to steal labor/services.

Common law covered domestic animals, but not those of base nature. Recently courts have expended it to consider all animals reduced to possession as personal property.

Intangibles (stocks, checks, etc.)

Not larceny at common law, but many states have broadened scope of larceny to include such property.

MPC for Property: Property is anything of value (real estate, tangible and intangible personal property, contract rights, choses-in-action, other interests in or claims to wealth, admission or transportation tickets, captured or domestic animals, food, drink, electric and other power. Sometimes even property w/ no intrinsic or market value can be subject of larceny.

Larceny and Information: A number of state and federal statutes have been amended or interpreted, however, to cover some kinds of information.

Policy Argument for it: Need to protect trade secrets, valuable information. There is a subtle line between what should and should not be prosecuted. I.E. discouraging people from taking other jobs. How you define this element may determine whether our economy and freedom is protected.
Policy Argument against it: Including confidential information under element #4 of larceny puts the democracy, our freedom, and our economy, at risk. If you go to far including information in #4 you squash the 1st amendment and freedom.