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

Criminal Law Outline


(Voluntary) Acts —————————- Mens Rea: Evil Mind —————————— Results

1. MPC 2.01: Requirement of Voluntary Act; Omission as Basis of Liability; Possession as an Act
a. 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
b. The following are not voluntary acts within the meaning of this section:
i. A reflex or convulsion
ii. A bodily movement during unconsciousness or sleep
iii. Conduct during hypnosis or resulting from hypnotic suggestion
iv. A bodily movement that otherwise is not a product of the effort or determination of the actor, either conscious or habitual
c. Liability for the commission of an offense may not be based on an omission unaccompanied by action unless:x
i. The omission is expressly made sufficient by the law defining the offense; or
ii. A duty to perform the omitted act is otherwise imposed by law.
d. Possession is an act, within the meaning of this Section, if the possessor knowingly procured or received the thing possessed or was aware of his control thereof for a sufficient period to have been able to terminate his possession.

a. Under common law, intent to commit the act is sufficient to prosecute the person and send him to prison.

a. LaFave: Thoughts alone should not be criminal. In criminal law, the person’s state of mind matters.
i. 3 reasons for justifying the requirement of an act
1. Person’s thought are not susceptible of proof except when demonstrated by outward actions
2. Difficulty in distinguishing a fixed intent from mere daydream and fantasy
3. Notion that criminal law should not be so broadly defined to reach those who entertain criminal schemes but never let their thoughts govern their conduct
ii. Common law crimes all require an act or omission in addition to a bad state of mind.
iii. Criminal liability REQUIRES that the activity in question be voluntary.
1. Voluntary Definition:
a. External manifestation of the will
b. Behavior which would have been otherwise if the individual had willed or chosen it to be otherwise
b. Several defenses for involuntary criminal act:
i. Sleepwalking
ii. Seizures
iii. Hypnosis
iv. Brainwashing

a. Legal Duty: Criminal activity may be predicated on an omission if the defendant has a legal duty, not just a moral duty, to act. Such legal duties can be based on
i. Statutes: affirmative action is required by the statute
ii. Special relationships: parent-child, etc. (??? What about the doctor/patient relationship as illustrated in Jones?)
1. Defendant’s status as a landowner (this is probably part of relationship)
2. Duty to control third parties, such as children or employees (this is probably part of relationship)
iii. Contractual obligations: lifeguard, etc.
iv. Voluntary assumption of care: start to act but put someone in a worse position
1. Defendant’s creation of peril (specific manifestation of act)
b. Jones v. United States
i. Facts: D fails to feed a baby and he dies from malnutrition. The other child is seriously suffering from malnutrition too.
ii. RULE: The law recognizes that under some circumstances the omission of a duty owed by one individual to another, where such omission results in the death of the one to whom the duty is owing, will make the other chargeable with manslaughter. This rule of law is always based upon the proposition that the duty neglected must be a legal duty, and not a mere moral obligation. It must be a duty imposed by law or by contract and the omission to perform the duty must be the immediate and direct cause of death.
c. Parental Liability for a Child’s Crime:
i. Parental relationship creates a duty to care for and protect the child
ii. That relationship can also create a duty to act appropriately to protect society from the child.
d. Omissions by Police Officers
i. Reasonable foreseeable victim by that factor alone does not establish a special relationship with the officers imposing upon them a duty to warn or protect.
e. Good Samaritan Laws:
i. Few courts criminalize failure to aid
f. Misprision of Felony:
i. It is defined as the failure to report or prosecute a known felony
ii. Most criminal codes fo not include misprision of felony as a crime.


Traditional Theft Crimes
1) Larceny
2) Crimes of embezzlement (added by statute)
3) False pretenses (added by statute)


1. LARCENY: For the crime of larceny, YOU MUST HAVE THE INTENT!!! One must meet all six elements to be guilty.
i. Trespassory (wrongful)
ii. Taking
iii. And carrying away
iv. Of the personal property
1. restricted to tangible and movable objects
v. Of another person
vi. With the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently
b. MPC 223.0(6): more expansive view of the type of property that ought to be protected by the theft laws
i. Property means anything of value, including real estate, tangible and intangible personal property, contract rights, choses-in-action and other interest in or claims to wealth, admission or transportation tickets, captured or domestic animals, food and drink, electric and other power.
i. Lund v. Commonwealth
1. Facts: D used keys, computer cards and computer time without proper authorization. D is indicted for larceny.
2. RULE: At common law, larceny is the taking and carrying away of the goods and chattels of another with intent to deprive the owner of the possession thereof permanently. Labor or services could not be the subject of the crime of larceny because neither time nor services may be taken and carried away.
3. Note: Computer time has been added through statute as “personal property” for the purposes of larceny. Services and labor have also been added to certain extent. However, we are still bound by the limitations of the word “personal property.”
ii. Common law larceny is restricted to tangible objects that are movable (excludes land since it’s not movable).
1. Statutory and judicial extensions of common-law larceny:
a. Use of personal property (i.e. computer time)
b. Real property: anything adhering to soil
c. Services
d. Electricity, Gas, Water, and Power
i. Dichotomy prosecution
1. larceny statute
2. theft of service statute
e. Animals (all animals reduced to possession, not just domestic animals)
iii. Test for what is property within larceny: the true test of what is a proper subject of larceny seems to

ceny in addition to the asportation requirement. All parts of the property must be moved (donut v. pie).
ii. Asportation requires only some movement of the property but generally demands that every part of the property be moved (donut v. pie).
iii. Taking property is, even for a brief moment, under the control of D, severed from the owner’s possession or D has actual possession of the property.
1. Person who knowingly obtains or exerts control over another person’s property with the purpose of depriving the owner of that property can be convicted of theft even if he or she never attempts to remove it from the premises (shoplifting concealment).
iv. MPC 223.2(1) abolishes the asportation requirement compared to common law.
1. Theft: unlawfully taking or exercising unlawful control over another person’s movable property.
2. The drafter’s intent: distinction between completed theft and an attempt no longer depends on the crimilogically insignificant fact of slight movement of the object.
v. Liability without Asportation:
1. Attempted larceny
i. Lost of Mislaid Property
1. Larceny of Lost Property:
a. Trespassory (wrongful)
b. Taking
c. And carrying away
d. Of the personal property
e. Of another person
f. With the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently
g. That at the time D took the property, D had a clue suggesting that the owner could reasonably be found
h. That D had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property at the time it was taken
2. Brooks v. State
a. Facts: D finds $200 bank bill. D did not let anyone know he found the money.
b. RULE: When a person finds goods that have actually been lost, and takes possession with intent to appropriate them to his own use, really believing, at the time, or having good grounds to believe, that the owner can be found, it is larceny.
i. D’s belief or grounds for belief in regarding finding the rightful owner is not to be determined by the degree of diligence that he might be able to use to accomplish that purpose but by the circumstances apparent to him at the time of finding the property.
ii. Intent to steal the property must have existed at the time he took it into his possession.
3. MPC 223.5: Theft of Property Lost, Mislaid, or Delivered by Mistake
a. A person who comes into control of property of another that he knows to have been lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake as to the nature or amount of the property or the identity of the recipient is guilty of theft if, with purpose to deprive the owner thereof, he fails to take reasonable measures to restore the property to a person entitled to have it.
b. MPC differs from common law: