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Criminal Law
University of Georgia School of Law
Watson, Camilla E.

Prof. Watson – Section X

I. Introduction
a. The Career of a Criminal Case
b. Theories of Punishment

II. Actus Reus (p 4)
a. The Need for Actus Reus
b. Omissions
c. Possession
d. Voluntariness
e. The Prohibition of Status Crimes
f. Legality
g. Specificity

III. Mens Rea (p 7)
a. Strict Liability
b. Categories of Culpability
c. Mens Rea Default Rules
d. Mistake
e. Capacity for Mens Rea

IV. Causation (p 15)
a. But-For Causation
b. Proximate Cause
c. Intervening Cause
d. Causes by Omission: Duties

V. Homicide Offenses (p 20)
a. Intentional Homicide
i. Premeditated Murder (1st Degree)
ii. Intentional Murder (2nd Degree)
iii. Voluntary Manslaughter
b. Unintentional Homicide
i. Involuntary Manslaughter
ii. Reckless Murder
iii. Felony Murder

VI. Justification & Excuse (p 28)
a. Justification
b. Excuse
c. Defensive Force

VII. Inchoate Offenses (p 33)
a. Attempt
b. Solicitation
c. Complicity
d. Conspiracy

Fall 2005 – Watson


· All crimes have an ACTUS REUS, most have a MENS REA, some require proof of CAUSATIONS, & a few require a specific RESULT (i.e. murder)
· Criminal Law v. Torts
1. public vs. private wrongs
2. punishment vs. compensation
3. social condemnation & stigma
4. more protection for D in criminal
5. lower burden of proof in torts


I. Trial Procedure
a. Formal Charge
i. Misdemeanor – affidavit sets forth elements of the charge, facts of what happened, and establishes probable cause; when issued, information gives green light to go to trial
ii. Felony – indictment handed down by grand jury through “true bill” that when issued gives green light to go to trial;
b. Arraignment – D hears charges and enters a plea, bail set or denied
i. most cases enter into plea agreement at this stage – problems with plea bargaining, due to the discretion of the prosecution in terms of selecting charges and sentences and the fact that prosecutors bargain hardest on their weakest cases, the people who are actually innocent may end up being coerced the most
c. Discovery Period
i. the Brady doctrine requires the prosecution o turn over to the defense all material exculpatory evidence upon a timely request
d. Pretrial Motions
e. Preliminary Hearing

II. Procedure at Trial
a. Jury Selection à Arraignment à Pretrial Motions
b. State Opening Statement à P rebuttal à State case à D case à Final Motions à Closing Arguments
c. Post-Trial conference/motions (jury instructions) à jury deliberations à Sentencing

III. Motions
a. Motion to Dismiss/Demurrer
i. Filed after Complaint
ii. D can move to dismiss an indictment or information on any of these grounds:
1. the crime charged is not a violation of the law
2. the facts alleged do not constitute the crime charged
3. the evidence proffered at the prelim hearing does not support the facts alleged

b. Motion for Summary Judgment
i. Filed after Discovery
ii. Based on the showing of new facts which compel judgment for the moving party, almost always made by D asserting that given the undisputed facts the legal rules do not permit the P to win

c. Motion for Directed Verdict
i. Filed after State rests and again after D rests
ii. Asserts that the proof offered by the State is legally insufficient to warrant a jury’s verdict for the State

d. JNOV (not withstanding the verdict)
i. Filed after Verdict
ii. Virtual renewal of motion for directed verdict, asserts that the evidence is not legally sufficient to justify the jury’s verdict for the State

e. Motion for a New Trial
i. If an error was committed in the trial and there is a strong possibility that the error influenced the jury




· Bentham
· Purpose = to maximize the net happiness of society
· Punishment justified if, and only if, it will decrease crime in the future
· Forward looking
· Crime is caused by societal circumstances
· Underlying principles:
1. Deterrence
A. General
B. Specific
i. Incapacitation
ii. Intimidation
2. Rehabilitation

· Kant
· Purpose = to punish those who deserve to be punished
· Punishment justified if, and only if, it is deserved & is proportional to the crime
· Backward looking
· Crime is caused by personal choices
· Underlying principles:
1. Atonement
2. Proportionality


· Punishment must be for a past act
· Involves the causation of some harmful result—includes some conduct or failure to act
· Rule of Lenity – where a statute is ambiguous, resolve the ambiguity in favor of the D


I. Guilty intent alone is not a crime, there MUST be some semblance of an act
A. Proctor v. State p.97 – D convicted of keeping a place with inte

oluntary actors
b. People v. Decina p.121 – epileptic had seizure, drove car up onto sidewalk and killed 4 people; Ct said seizure was involuntary, but driving the car was voluntary and risk of seizure was too foreseeable


I. Defining a crime in terms of “status” rather than a particular activity violates the 8th Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment

II. It does not necessarily follow from the fact that a person has a certain status the he will commit antisocial acts
a. Robison v. California p.121 – D arrested for “being an addict”, not upheld
b. Powell v. Texas p.127 – although “being an alcoholic” cannot constitute a crime, an alcoholic can be convicted of appearing in public while drunk even though that appearance is related to his status. The drinking may have been uncontrollable, but the D voluntarily went out in public.
c. Johnson v. State p. 127 – drug addict mother cannot be charged for abuse or neglect of newborn child, insufficient proof that there was delivery of drugs to baby. Also, conviction might encourage drug addicted mothers not to seek pre-natal care (statute doing so had previously been voted down).

I. an act must be defined as illegal for it to be punishable
a. Rogers v. Tennessee – D stabbed victim who died 15 months later, TN ct abolished “year-and-a-day rule”, applied to D
b. The Keeler Case – D intentionally killed fetus by beating 8 month pregnant ex-wife, conviction thrown out; at time statute was enacted, legislators did not intend for it to apply to an unborn, viable fetus so not murder now (Rule of Lenity)


I. The Due Process clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments prohibit enforcement of statutes defining crimes if those statutes are impermissibly vague; this serves to assure that persons have notice that conduct anticipated will be criminal and discourage arbitrary enforcement
a. City of Chicago v. Morales p.144 – D convicted under Chicago Gang Ordinance but Ct found its definition of loitering too imprecise, may outlaw constitutionally protected activities, and allowed police too much discretion