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Criminal Law
University of Denver School of Law
McDaniel-Miccio, Rabbi Kris

I. Actus Reus: Act must be voluntary, meaning it is the product of a free and conscious choice
a. What constitutes a legally sufficient act:
· There must be a connection between act and the result
a) Actual cause: cause in fact
b) Proximate cause: result was foreseeable
· The act must be an affirmative act on the part of the ∆, or an omission to act if the ∆ was under a legal duty to act affirmatively (status relationship) that either proscribes or produces the illegal result.
b. Conceptions of voluntariness:
· A voluntary a movement that is willed or directed by the actor
· Involuntary act: individual has no conscious control
· EX: epileptic driving = guilty only if he was aware of his condition
· Mere thoughts are never punishable as crimes
c. Omissions
· Must be a legal duty for an omission to invoke criminal liability
a) Statute
· Driver in accident must stop at the scene, Good Samaritan laws
b) Status relationship
· Parent to child, spouses
c) Beginning to act
· Prevents others from helping
d) K (to provide care)
· Nursing home
e) Causing the harm
· Start fire must stop it, push someone in water who cant swim
d. Possessions: knowingly exercise dominion and control over a banned substance (knowingly taking or keeping a forbidden act is a voluntary act)
· MR: Knowingly!!
· Actual Possession
a) Open and Notorious: if the drugs are in the room = in control
b) ∆ must exercise dominion and control
· Ability to exclude the world
c) Must know that the item is there, and must know that it is contraband
· EX: when you rent the car, but you don’t actually own it
· Constructive possession
a) Control over the premises where the item is located, the ability to exercise control and the intent to do so.
· EX: Apartment Landlord (constructive ); Apartment Renter (actual)
b) Proximity= ability to exercise dominion and control
· Can be individual or multiple individuals
i. Not individually exercising d/c, but based on ability of the person to quickly exercise
ii. EX: drugs or gun in a car with a lot of people, drugs in the kitchen
c) A visitor has no d/c on premise, but if the visitor is there and owner is not presence then the owner is not in control
d) EX: Explorer with a shit ton of weed… no way that they didn’t know…
· Custody
a) don’t have the power to exclude the world (shoplifting)
b) Transitory relationship…
c) EX: Holding the purse, co
· EX: Demonstrated by a Car
a) Ownership: legally hold the title
b) Actual Possession: borrow for the weekend
c) Constructive Possession: in the car with a friend who borrowed
d) Custody: watch while I run inside

II. Mens Rea: the mental state required by statute at the time of the act
a. Types of Intent:
· General intent crimes
a) ∆ did not intend the direct harm, but they did intend the action that caused the harm
· Specific intent crimes
a) ∆ intends to produce the precise consequences of their actions
· Only intentional crimes are specific intent and knowingly plus (theft) crimes
· Transferred Intent
a) Attributes liability to a ∆ who intends to cause the harm to one person, but harms someone else instead
· MENS REA transferred from the first to the second
· EX: A wants to kill B. Fires at B, but misses and hits C.
i. Charge with attempted ITK for B, ITK for C!!!
· Strict Liability
a) NO MR required, it is enough that the ∆ performed the act
b) EX: statutory rape, felony murder

b. Intentional/Purposeful
· ∆ intends the natural and probable consequences (harm) of their act
· Wholly Subjective test= what the ∆ believed/knew at the time committed the act
· Specific Intent
· ASK: what did the ∆ intend as the consequences of their action?
· EX: ∆ shoots V, HIV biting case
c. Knowingly
· ∆ is consciously aware that the conduct is practically certain (=degree of awareness) to cause the harm
a) Usually drug/possession charges
· General Intent
· EX: bomb in an airplane to destroy the cargo, but KNEW that the deaths of the passengers is practically certain to happen as a result of the action, “Tommy hits hard”, Tons of Drugs
d. Reckless
· ∆ consc

son criminally liable, there must be a connection between the act and the harm.
· Need BOTH, but the are SEPARATE!

o Cause in Fact (actual or factual cause)
§ 1 Actor
· Test:
o Whether ∆’s conduct is a direct cause to the harm
o EX: If A shoots B and B dies from the gunshot, the direct cause of the death (harm was the bullet discharged from B’s gun)
· Direct cause (But For: )
§ 2+ Actors
· Each act must constitute a substantial factor in causing the harm.
· Substantial factor: act that is serious enough to cause or accelerate the resulting harm.
· Substantial Factor: act that is serious enough to cause or accelerate the resulting harm…
o Accelerated the death:
§ ∆1 shoots x, ∆2 stabs x, stabbing accelerated the death, so ∆2 may be criminally liable.
§ Can be held liable even if the result was already inevitable
o Combined sufficient:
§ ∆1 shoots, ∆2 stabs, Both wounds, on their own, would have killed the decedent. Both may be criminally liable.
o Combined insufficient:
§ ∆1 shoots, ∆2 stabs. Combined, the wounds killed, but on their own, they could not have. Both may be criminally liable.

o Proximate Cause (Legal Cause): Act or omission which in a natural and continuous sequence directly produces the death and without which it would not have occurred.
§ THERE CAN BE MORE THAN ONE PROXIMATE CAUSE. (the existence of other proximate causes is not a defense) Basically: the death is the natural or probable result of the act or omission
§ 1 Act precipitates the harm
· Whether a RPP in ∆’s position would have known that shooting at close range/stabbing in the neck/etc. would cause the victim’s death.
§ Did subsequent events cause the harm?