Select Page

Criminal Law
University of Dayton School of Law
Hagel, Thomas

Criminal law

I.                    Purposes of Punishment
a.       Reformation- rehabilitation/reforming criminals by in large doesn’t work (we know this because there are so many repeat offenders.)  The idea is that something is wrong and we are going to fix it.
b.      Restraint/ incapacitation- keep people from hurting society, loss of capacity to violate the law again.
c.       Retribution- getting even with criminals. (expiation aims at cleansing society by removing the criminal from it’s midst.)  Usually seen in connection with the death penalty.  You did a bad thing and we are going to punish you for it.
d.      Deterrence- we are hoping to stop future behavior of a similar ilk.
i.      Special/individual deterrence-this is different from reformation because it emphasizes the negative.
ii.      General deterrence-the idea is that if we punish this individual, then other people who are thinking about doing the same thing will stop and think before they do it.  The big problem is that most prospective criminal defendants are unaware of the sentences that courts may impose
II.                 Mens Rea=it’s an element even if the legislature did not state that it’s an element./ there is an unwritten presumption that at least recklessness is required.
a.       The act has to be the result of the intent.
b.      Levels of intent
i.      purposely-
1.      he intends to engage in the conduct or to cause the result
2.      if he is aware of attendant circumstances or believes or hopes that those circumstances exist.
3.      it’s purposefully any time the statute says “with the intent to”
ii.      Knowingly [willfulness]-
1.      If the element involves the nature of conduct and is he aware that his conduct is of that nature
2.      If the element involves a result of his conduct, he is aware that it is practically certain that his conduct will cause such a result
iii.      Recklessly-
1.      Consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the element will result from his conduct.  The risk must be so great that considering the nature and purpose of the actor’s conduct and the circumstances known to him, it’s disregard involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe
2.      the difference between negligence and recklessness is that neg is an act of inadvertence-not aware of risk of harm.  Reck-the person knows there is a risk.
iv.      Negligently-
1.      When you should be aware of a substantial or unjustifiable risk will result from his conduct.  The risk must be so great that failing to perceive it is a gross deviation from that of a reasonable person
c.       Three kinds of mistake
i.      Mistake of fact-goes to intent
1.      Operates as a partial defense
2.      You can still be guilty of a general intent crime.
3.      It would have to be a mistake that would operate as negating the necessary intent.
4.      If purpose is required and D shows that he had a mistake of fact, D is off the hook
5.      The burden is preponderance of the evidence.
6.      If negligence is required and D shows that he made a reasonable mistake of fact, D is off the hook.
ii.      Mistake of law as to criminality
1.      majority=never an excuse
2.      MPC=it is an excuse when
a.       The statute is not reasonably available before the conduct
b.      He acts in reasonable reliance of judicial opinion, agency charged with interpretation.
iii.      Mistake of law as to civil effect
III.               Actus Reas=the crime must be a result of the act.  Total elimination of the requirement of act is unconstitutional, but little else is required.
a.       Action or inaction must be voluntary
b.      Kinds of actus reas
i.      Affirmative
1.      voluntarily delegating control counts if the thing you delegate control to does the act.
2.      voluntary means that it is the product of some decision making process
3.      status is insufficient.
ii.      Omission
1.      it has to be an act that you are physically capable of doing.
2.      the omission must be one expressly made sufficient by the law defining the offense. Or
3.      the duty to impose the omitted act is imposed by law.
a.       where a statute imposes a duty of care
b.      when one stands in a certain status of relationship to another (usually common law)
c.       where one has assumed a contractual duty of care
d.      where one assumes to voluntarily care for another and so secluded the helpless person to prevent others from rendering aid
iii.      Possession
1.      Actual
2.      constructive
3.      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.
IV.              Causation
a.       Concurrent causation=there can be 2 separate causal forces that work together to cause the harm.
b.      The prosecution just has to show that his actions were one of the causing forces.
c.       Courts will not allow negligent treatment to exculpate unless the negligence so extreme as to render the D’s conduct no longer a meaningful cause.
d.      An intervening cause will exculpate when: A force that is sufficient in and of itself to cause the harm and it is unforeseeable.  If the intervening cause is foreseeable, that cause wont relieve D from criminal liability
e.       You only have to worry about causation with result crimes.
f.        The act must be the but for cause, and

mpossible for the person to complete the target crime.  He shot a silhouette, thinking it was a person and it wasn’t.
ii.      “hybrid legal”= not a defense
1.      where the fact is of legal significance.  The whole thing that made his crime impossible was a legally significant fact, like the goods were not stolen.
iii.      “true” legal  = not an attempt, so you don’t need a defense
1.      If the ultimate conduct is not a crime, then attempting to do it is not a crime.  (Like “attempted rude”)
VI.              Homicide
a.       Majority
i.      Murder
1.      not really intent-malice aforethought
a.       intentional killing
b.      killings in which D intentionally inflicts serious bodily harm
c.       killings resulting from outrageous reckless conduct
d.      killings arising out of the perpetuation of particular felonies
2.      premeditation-required for first degree murder
a.       the mental process of thinking beforehand, deliberation, reflection, weighting or reasoning for a period of time, however short
b.      in the case of multiple injuries, D is deemed to have thought about the consequences between each infliction.
3.      motive
a.       P does not have to prove motive unless it is specifically called for by statute
ii.      Manslaughter-lower level of intent than murder
1.      if you can show heat of passion, that is a demonstration that you do not have the malice aforethought for murder.
2.      requirements for heat of passion:
a.       acted on a sudden impulse
b.      as a result of being provoked
i.      provocation must have been legally significant.
c.       a reasonable person would have been provoked.
i.      Reasonableness is determined from the viewpoint of a person in the actor’s situation under the circumstances as he believes them to be.
d.      No cooling off period between the provocation and the killing.
b.      MPC
i.      Murder-first degree felony