Criminal Law Outline
I. Principle of Legality: Court cannot create crimes.
a. Keeler V. Superior Court –
i. Facts. Man charged w/ murder after attacking ex & killing fetus.
ii. Holding. Can’t be charged w/ murder bc fetus not considered “human being” as used in statute. Ct. can’t expand statute to cover fetuses bc this would violate D’s DP – would not have “fair notice” that his actions were criminal.
a. Statute void-for-vagueness if :
i. No fair notice of prohibited conduct (must define a “reasonably ascertainable standard of guilt); or
ii. Authorizes/encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.
b. Must look to statute, legislative history and how court has interpreted:
i. In Re Banks –
1. Facts. Man charged w/ “peeping tom” statute. Trial ct. declares statute unconstitutional bc it is vague.
2. Held: statute not v4v bc it has been sufficiently narrowed by judicial interpretation
c. Chicago V. Morales –
i. Facts. Charged w/ Chicago’s anti-gang congregation ordinance.
ii. Held: ordinance v4v bc (1) No fair notice; (2) Arbitrary Enforcement.
III. Rule of Lenity:
a. All other things =, ct should decide on the side of D (rarely enforced).
IV. Statutory Interpretation:
a. Must look carefully @ statutes to determine any possible ambiguity. Ct should look @ leg. history & @ precedent to determine the meaning of any ambiguous words in the statute.
b. US V. Foster –
i. Facts. Man pulled w/ gun in baggie, under tarp in bed of truck. Charged w/ “carrying firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.”
ii. Held: D’s did not violate statute. Ct looks to case law determines that D’s actions are not consistent with the court’s definition of “carry”. Looks to leg. history & determines was not intent of leg.
V. Principles of Punishment:
courts” / “prostitution courts” where individual problems can be addressed.
ii. Critique of Utilitarianism:
1. Goal of theory allows innocents to be punished; bc it will still stand as a societal deterrence (sacrifice 1 for better good of all).
a. EG: Police arrest innocent man to stop mob.
2. People don’t usually do cost/ben analysis b4 committing crimes.
a. Response: not exact calculation, but if you know you will be punished, you might be deterred.
3. How about voluntary manslaughter? (killing in “heat of passion”)
a. By definition, person was not thinking, so according to util. there is no purpose of punishment bc it will not deter.
b. EG: Queen V. Dudley (should we punish for eating boy on boat?)
Retributive Theory — Moralistic view of wrongdoing. People have capacity to reason and duty to conform actions to rule of law. If they break law, it is bc they have chosen to do so & should suffer consequence.