Select Page

Criminal Law
University of California, Hastings School of Law
Weithorn, Lois A.

Outline # 2: Criminal Law: Whitehorn fall 2003

I. Overview of the Criminal Justice System
1. Why?
-regulate social norms
-maintain social order
-prohibit harmful acts
-protect against the people who disregard others
A. Architecture of the Criminal Justice System
B. Criminal v. Civil Law
1. The state is the victim in criminal cases
2. Criminal law prohibits where civil law prices
3. Crim deals with harm to society, social harm
4. Punishment includes incarceration and even death
C. Constitutional Principles
1. Ex poste facto: defining the crime 6th Amend.
ÕPrinciple of specificity: “No one may be required at peril of life, liberty, or property as the meaning of legal statutes. All are entitled to be informed as the what the state condemns or forbids.”
ÕPrinciple of lenity: A rule of strict interpretation, narrow construction of penal statutes that always favor the defendant. : 
a. Keeler v. Superior Court: Victim was pregnant with another man’s child after her and her husband separated. D kicked her in the stomach killing the fetus. Not murder because a fetus is not a person
-Statutory change after this decision in the definition of a “person.”
D. Punishment : A penalty inflicted for an offense or fault.
1. Retribution: just deserts (past oriented)
a. Proportionality: Let the punishment fit the crime.
-Ewing v. California: D stole golf clubs from a pro shop but b/c of his criminal history and the three strikes rule he got 25 years. Three strikes and you’re out, buddy.
b. Uniformity: Same crime, same punishment (does not take into account other factors like bad childhood)
c. Not focused on intent but the harm caused.
d. Utilitarian: the punishment serves a service to society
2. Deterrence:
General: deter society by example (reduce through fear of punishment)
Specific: deter the person
a. The punishment must be bad enough to outweigh the benefits of committing the crime
3. Incapacitation: “A thug in prison can’t shoot your sister”
Selective incapacitation: indiv. criminal and their personal factors evaluated to determine punishment
Collective incapacitation: All people convicted of the same crime should serve the same sentence
4. Rehabilitation: to return them to society
a. Restorative: brings the victim as well as the of

§2.01: Voluntary Act
(1)   A person is not guilty of an offense unless his liability is based on conduct which includes a voluntary act or the omission to perform an act of which he is physically capable.
(2)   The following are not voluntary acts within the meaning of this section:
(a)   A reflex or convulsion
(b)   A bodily movement during unconsciousness or sleep
(c)   Conduct during hypnosis from hypnotic suggestion
(d)   A bodily movement that otherwise is not a product of the effort or determination of the actor, whether conscious or habitual
A non-criminal act performed with criminal intent is not a crime
a. Childs v. State: D charged with “popping” slot machines so they would pay out more by manipulating a manufacturing defect.
“An overt act, or some open evidence of an intended crime, is necessary in order to demonstrate the depravity of the will, before the man is liable to punishment.”