Select Page

Criminal Law
University of Dayton School of Law
Brenner, Susan W.

Chapter 1. Purposes of Criminal Law
 
§1.02. Criminal Law
A.     Major goal of criminal law – to forbid and prevent conduct that threatens substantial harm to individual or public interests and is both unjustifiable and inexcusable.
 
·        Regina v. Dudley & Stephens- shipwrecked men charged w/murder of other while stuck on live raft. They killed and ate him so they wouldn’t die.
Rule: In order to save your own life, you may lawfully take the life of another despite fact the other person is neither attempting nor threatening your life.
Held: “Private necessity” justifies taking the life of an innocent person as long as the person’s occupation did not put the person in the position of having to kill the other in order to survive (sailor at sea, rescue squad on a mountain).
 
Chapter 2. The Requirement of a “Voluntary Act”
 
The Act Requirement
§ 2.01. Requirement of Voluntary Act: Omission as Basis of Liability: Possession as an Act.
(1)   A person is not guilty of an offense unless his liability is based on conduct that includes a voluntary act or the omission to perform an act of which he is incapable.
 
(2)   The following are not voluntary acts:
i.  Reflex or convulsion;
ii.      Bodily movement during unconsciousness or sleep;
iii.     Hypnosis;
iv.    A bodily movement that otherwise is not a product of the effect or determination of the actor, either conscious or habitual.
 
·        Martin v. State- Δ was carried into street by cops and then arrested for drunkenness.
Rule: person must actually perform the physical act for each element of a crime (w/o coercion) if the offense requires that he perform or do something.
Held: Ct held that the forcing of Δ into street did not constitute his “performance” of an “appearance” while drunk in a public place b/c he did not venture into the street voluntarily (he was carried by the police).
 
·        Fulcher v. State- drunk man beat up other in bar and then claimed “traumatic automatism (unconsciousness and involuntary commission of crime)
Rule: Unconsciousness is a complete defense- no jail or institutional time.
          Insanity is also defense, but can get jail once “cured” or can be institutionalized
Held: Issue of unconsciousness from bump on the head was a separate defense from “not guilty by reason of mental illness or insanity” b/c was only a temp. condition.
 
·        Robinson v. State of CA-Δ charged

contractual duty to care for other (doctor)
d.      One has voluntarily assumed care for other and secludes the helpless person so that others cannot render aid
Held: Δ was liable b/c she had a legal duty (volunteered to give aid) and did not provide medical care or let others to provide medical care.
Chapter 3. Mens Rea
 
A.     Legislative patterns of Criminal Intention- Application of various mental states (maliciously, fraudulently, willfully, intent to steal) are referred to as requirements for many statutes.
 
·        Regina v. Faulkner- Δ was seaman on ship and in the process of drilling a hole in a cask of rum so he could get drunk, set the ship afire.
Rule: In order to be liable for an “intentional act” Δ must have to have intended for the consequences of that act. (setting ship on fire while stealing rum).
Held: b/c Δ only intended to steal rum and not start a fire, Δ could not be tried for “unlawfully and intentionally” setting ship on fire.