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Criminal Law
University of Dayton School of Law
Randall, Verneilia R.

Criminal Law Outline
 
Part 1: Introduction and Core Principles
 
 
Culpability and the Elements of the Offense
–          Mens Rea
o       literally, “guilty mind”; used more generally as state of mind at time of the crime
o       Blackstone: “an unwarrantable act without a vicious will is not crime at all”
–          MPC 2.02 – heart of the MPC
o       (1) must proved specified mens rea wrt each material element of the offense charged
o       (2) kinds of culpability
§         purposefully: i) result is actor “conscious object” ii) aware of necessary attendant circumstances or believes/ hopes they exist
§         knowingly: i) aware of attendant circumstances and nature of conduct; ii) aware result is a practical certainty
§         recklessly: actor consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk
·         “gross deviation from the standard of conduct of a law-abiding person
§         negligently: actor “should have been aware” of the substantial and unjustifiable risk
·         gross deviation from how a “reasonable person in the actor’s situation” would act
o       (3) if no mens rea specifies à purposefully, knowingly, or recklessly suffices
o       (4) mens rea in one part of crime applies to all other elements unless otherwise specified
o       (5) showing higher level of culpability proves lower levels
o       (6) conditional purpose establishes purpose (see Holloway)
o       (7) knowledge satisfied by high probability
o       (8) knowingly implies willfully
o       (9) ignorance of law no excuse
–          Motive v. Intent
o       intent – state of mind wrt the act done
o       motive – goal in doing the act
–          Required culpability must be tightly connected to the act
o       (cf. Faulkner – can’t have “transferred intent”)
–          Exceptions to culpability requirements (actus reus and mens rea)
o       violations
o       statute evidences strict liability
o       but unless otherwise stated: if strict liability à offense is a violation
–          Examples
o       Regina v. Cunningham – man steals gas meter, occupant of house suffers inhalation injury. Poison charge quashed because he wanted to steal, not administer poison
o       Holloway v. US – carjacker: “death or car.” Statute requires theft “with intent to harm.” Such conditional purpose would satisfy that element under MPC 2.02(6)
o       Jewell v. U.S. – Drug smuggler claims he didn’t know drugs were there. MPC 2.02(7) – knowledge satisfied by high probability, unless actor actually believed otherwise.
o       Regina v. Faulkner – sailor, while stealing rum, accidentally sets fire to a ship. Convicted at trial, under flawed theory of transferred intent.
§         under MPC 220.1, can’t convict for arson as didn’t start the fire with “purpose” to burn down building
§         could convict under 220.3 – c

    2.01(3) Liability can’t be base on an omission unless: a) make explicit by law, or b) actor has an affirmative legal duty
–          Rmk: (4) Possession is an act if able to terminate possession
–          actus reus can be a defense even to strict liability crimes – as no “act” was done
–          innocent actions and culpable thoughts: even if there is mens rea, if there is no act, there is no crime: no one is punishable for his thoughts
–          Examples
o       Martin v. State – D forced outside by police, convicted of public drunkenness. 
§         wrong as made no voluntary act.
 
Strict Liability
–          strict liability: crime regardless of culpability
–          Arguments for strict liability in “public welfare offenses”
o       protection of society from particular harms – induce people in certain activities to take great care
o       penalties slight, stigma small
o       administrative efficiency: burden too great on prosecution, allow easy conviction
–          Arguments against strict liability
if you acted reasonably, how can we condemn you? What more can society ask of you than acting reasonably?