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Property I
University of Connecticut School of Law
Utz, Stephen

I. Actus Reus
·        Distinction between mens rea defense and actus reus defense
o       push button not knowing rigged to bomb (MR defense) vs. push button because hypnotized (AR defense)
o       A unknowingly has computer virus that when she uses computer will cause everyone’s computers to crash (MR defense but still voluntary act)
MPC 2.01 Requirement of Voluntary Act; Omission as Basis of Liability;
1.      Liability based on conduct which includes voluntary act or omission to perform act of which he is physically capable
2.      The following are NOT voluntary acts
a.       Reflex/convulsion
b.      Bodily movement during unconsciousness or sleep
c.       Conduct during hypnosis or resulting from hypnotic suggestion
d.      Bodily movement that otherwise is not a product of the effort or determination of the actor, either conscious or habitual
3.      Liability for commission of an offense based on omission (no act) if:
a.       Omission is expressly made sufficient by law defining offense; or
b.      A duty to perform the omitted act is otherwise imposed by law
·        HYPO: Martin at home drinking beer watching baseball, police say have arrest warrant and pull him into car. 4 blocks later realize they have wrong guy and leave Martin on road. After walking for one block he’s stopped and arrested for being out in public drunk.
o       NOT actus reus – didn’t voluntarily go out in public (forced)
·        Martin has habit of going to friend’s 5 blocks away to drink, stay till 2am when sober before going home. At 11, Martin’s still drunk and the house catches fire so runs out of house and Martin charged with public drunkenness.
o       Still has defense
·        If Martin’s friend says he wants to go to bed at 11 and tells Martin to leave, Martin arrested.
o       Gray area but probably no defense (could’ve asked to stay, called cab)
·        DECINA: had seizure while driving and killed people – act because knew he was prone to seizures (different if no idea) (voluntary act doesn’t have to be in the moment, could be not taking meds, etc.)
II.           Omission – (made sufficient by law or duty to perform imposed by law)
·        Ex. – failure to submit taxes
·        JONES – neighbor taking care of children, they were neglected and child died. Not omission because no legal duty to care for the kids.
·        Duty exists: parent to child, contractual duty, duty defined by statute (flight attendant to passenger)
·        Generally no duty to rescue (good Samaritan)
·        Must be possible to carry out duty and chose not to for liability
·        HYPO – lifeguard on beach and someone shouts for help but lifeguard in the middle of having sex and person drowns – liability. But, if lifeguard stung by bee and paralyzed – no liability.
·                          A B C(parent)      Kid drowns in pool when B drunkenly bumps into A who
       bumped kid into pool. A not liable (no voluntary act)
      B liable (manslaughter –reckless) C liable (omission)
·        Doctor pulls life support plug when no chance of recovery and says omission (even though doesn’t preclude liability) because not really killin

                                                iii.      If boxer kills opponent with punch to face, not reckless because not gross deviation from standard of conduct
·        Rape – had sex with victim (voluntary act), knowing lack of consent and purposefully going forward with act. (knowing subordinate to acting purposefully)
·        HYPO – Nate works at defense department , he’s in the part with case (marked) of government secrets. He leaves it in the park to play softball where he knows Iranian spies are and case disappears. (Could be charged with treason for acting knowing secrets could fall into government hands regardless of intended outcome).
·        HYPO – bomb ambassador’s car and purposely kill him but knowingly kill his 3 kids in the car
·        Faulkner – intent to steal rum, lit match to see and burned down ship. Not liable for remote consequences because mens rea for stealing doesn’t transfer to arson.
·        Default rule that where there’s ambiguity and can establish the kind of culpability sufficient for the commission of an offense, it shall apply to all elements of offense.
o       For assault, need to intentionally strike a police officer. But what if undercover cop? Can apply intentionally to all aspects because of ambiguity.