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

Criminal Outline – Fall Semester 2008 (Watson)

Introduction to Criminal Law
Introduction to Criminal Law
1. Crime – societal harm; act or omission for which the government has chosen to punish with stigmatizing punishment
2. Classifications of Crimes
a. Misdemeanors and Felonies
i. Misdemeanor – Lesser offense; punishable by fine or incarceration for less that a year at the local jail
ii. Felony – more serious offense punishable by death or incarceration in a state penitentiary for a year or more
b. Malum In Se and Malum Prohibitum
i. Malum In Se – crimes that are inherently bad, dangerous, or immoral in themselves
1. Common law felonies: murder, manslaughter, mayhem, robbery, arson, burglary, and larceny
ii. Malum Prohibitum – Other acts that are made criminal not because they are inherently wrong but because their prohibition is necessary to regulate the general welfare
1. Ex. driving a vehicle on the left side of the road
3. Burden of Proof
a. The government (prosecution) has the burden of persuading the jury that this person is guilty of an offense
b. Prosecution is required to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” in accordance with the due process requirement

Model Penal Code
Model Penal Code
1. MPC is not the law although it is a view of what the law should be from a careful, reasonable standpoint. MPC is a more recent view of relevant issues, since it can take common law a long time to evolve.
2. MPC is useful in three ways:
a. Where there is no law on a point in a given jurisdiction
b. Where there is law on a point, but it is ambiguous
c. Where there is law on a point, but it is older law, and you are arguing the law should be changed
* * * The controlling law will be the law of the jurisdiction, but the MPC can be good rule to follow * * *

Just Punishment
I. Just Punishment
a. Three Things to Focus on When Determining Punishment
i. Severity of Offense
ii. Danger to Society
iii. Likelihood of Recurrence
b. Theories of Punishment (best and most useful theory is a combination of Utilitarianism and Retrobutivism)
i. Utilitarian Punishment – based on Bentham (more modern view)
1. The Utility Principle as a Limit on Punishment
a. Supposes that the purpose of the law is the net happiness of society
b. Wrongdoers should be punished only if a greater good may be accomplished from the punishment
c. Forward looking – asks what society can accomplish in the future
d. Punishment does not express blame for the offender – Utilitarianist believe that crime is caused by societal circumstances
2. Deterrence
a. General Deterrence – aimed at society
i. Where society is sent a message that crime does not pay; hopes to effect a net reduction in the overall crime rate
b. “Specific” Deterrence – aimed at the general offender
i. Incapacitation – if the offender is incapacitated then the offender is not able to continue to commit the offense
ii. Intimidation – Once the offender has been punished, it is the thought of that punishment that will keep the person from committing further offenses (forces the offender to engage in a cost benefit analysis)
3. Rehabilitation (reform) – Therapeutic evaluation of criminality as a disease rather than a vice. Offenders are not responsible for their actions and they need treatment.
a. Has been shown not to work well because of high rates of recidivism
b. Theory has suffered from a lack of political support
c. Penitentiaries – originally designed as rehabilitation facilities
ii. Retribution – based on Kant (oldest)
1. Retribution as a Limit on Punishment
a. Two Aspects of Retribution
i. Atonement – crime is a result of a person individual character and because of that the person needs to be punished
ii. Proportionality – the punishment should be in proportion to the offense (eye for an eye)
b. Focuses on blameworthiness; supposes that the person had the choice to commit the crime
c. Backward looking – focusing only on the crime itself
c. Sentencing
Apprendi v. New Jersey – Apprendi pleaded guilty to firing into a home. At sentencing, judge took into account that the act might have been a hate crime, and extended sentence. On appeal, supreme court held that any fact that affects a sentence must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Exception: If a prior conviction is a sentencing factor, it can be used, since it was already tried by jury
Washington v. Blakely – Blakely kidnapped estranged wife. Blakely pleaded guilty. Judge found ‘deliberate cruelty’ and sentenced Blakely to 90 mos. Greater sentence. On appeal, Supreme court held that only jury decided or defendant admitted facts are to be used in sentencing
U.S.v. Booker – Federal sentencing guidelines are advisory only
U.S. v. Rita – sentence within federal guidelines is presumptively reasonable, those outside federal guidelines are not presumptively reasonable
d. Cost-Benefit Analysis
i. Severity of the offense discounted by the chance of being caught and the chance of being punished
ii. Theoretically if we increase the punishment there should be a decrease in the crime rate, but most criminals are not thinking about a cost benefit analysis when the commit the crime:
1. Does not take into account those acting impulsively or irrationally
2. Some criminals are risk takers and just like the excitement of committing the offense
3. Severity does not generally decrease the deterrent effect

The Elements of the Criminal Offense
II. The Elements of the Criminal Offense
a. Introduction – Elements of Criminal Liability
i. Actus Reus – A criminal act; or proof of culpability (all crimes have an actus reus)
ii. Mens Rea (Guilty Mind) – “a criminal mind;” or criminal intent (not all crimes have a mens rea)
iii. Causation – an examination of the surrounding circumstances or what caused an act
iv. Result – Some offenses require an specific result (homicide = must have a dead body)
v. True Defenses
1. Justification – focuses on the act
a. Defendant committed act but maintains that is actions were justifiable
i. Self-defense, defense of others, law enforcement
2. Excuse – focuses on the actor
a. Although the defendants actions violated the law, circumstances rendered him blameless
i. Duress, intoxication, insanity
vi. Stare Decisis – courts are bound by legal precedent
b. The Criminal Act: Actus Reus

Actus Reus
i. The Need for an Actus Reus
1. To be convicted of a crime, the defendant must have committed a criminal act; the law does not punish mere criminal thought

iv. Voluntariness – the actus reus MUST be voluntary
1. Voluntary Act – movement of the human body over which the person has control; did the individual have a choice to behave differently? If yes, then it is a voluntary act.
a. People v. Newton – Gun on international flight; plane diverted from Bahamas to NY; defendant arrested for unlicensed handgun under New York law. Court said he did not subject himself to criminal liability by virtue of a voluntary act since he was brought to NY against his will. (transferred voluntariness is wrong, brought gun on voluntarily to Bahamas plane (not illegal there), then transported to NY, where it was illegal)
i. Hypo #1 – Flying from ATL to LA, and stop in Tucson, charged with possession – here it would be more likely that the act would be considered voluntary, b/c you committed it having reason to believe that you would fly over AZ.
2. MPC § 2.01 – Requirement of a Voluntary Act – requires a voluntary act but counts unconscious movements and other reflexes as involuntary
3. Rule of Lenity – If gap or lack of specificity in a statute or ambiguity, break the tie in favor of defendant (read statute in favor of defendant)
a. Martin v. State – drunk, arrested at home and charged with being drunk on a public highway, but was not there voluntarily. Statute does not state that this offense specifically requires a voluntary act, so use the Rule of Lenity to rule in the defendant’s favor
i. Hypo #1 – If defendant got drunk in his own home, then wandered out into the street, then he could be found to be guilty because of “transferred voluntariness”
4. Transferred Voluntariness – Voluntarily creating a mental state (such as becoming voluntarily drunk, unconscious) can be transferred to other acts committed in this state
a. People v. Decina – defendant is driving, had a seizure, killed 4 court says that it was a volitional act b/c he knew of the risks beforehand and his propensity to seizures (Should have anticipated he would hurt people)
5. Voluntariness is an issue of fact to be determined by the jury
a. People v. Grant – drunk guy at a bar, involved in riot, assaulted police officer, claimed psychomotor epilepsy and that he did not act voluntarily. Court says whether or not he acted voluntarily was an issue of fact to be determined by the jury.
6. Why Require a Voluntary Act?
a. Issue of assigning responsibility or blameworthiness
b. Punishing involuntary acts serves no purpose under either theory of punishment: retributivism or utilitarianism
i. Ex. Sleepwalker cases – sleepwalkers are not voluntary actors; they may need help, but not punishment