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Criminal Law
University of Kansas School of Law
Wilson, Melanie D.

Word List
Common law
Accomplice liability
Negligent homicide
Strict liability
General intent crime
Specific intent crime
Principle of legality
Actus reus
Voluntary act
Social Harm
Mens rea
Actual causation
Proximate causation
Transferred intent
Depraved heart
Felony murder
Attendant circumstances
Deadly force
Failure-of-proof defense
General deterrence
Malice aforethought
Serious bodily harm
Specific deterrence
Irresistible impulse test
Product test
Innocent instrumentality doctrine
Aggressor status
Mistake of fact
Mistake of law
Factual impossibility
Pure legal impossibility
Hybrid legal impossibility
Reasonable person
Burden of proof
The common law versus statutes
Common Law is judge-made law – the basis of what we learn. At common law, there were eight felonies. Now, virtually anything is a crime. Almost all states have abolished common law offenses. The Model Penal Code says that common law crimes are out the window. That doesn’t mean that the common law is irrelevant.
Common law crimes: Arson is defined as the intentional or reckless burning of the dwelling house of another. Burglary is defined as breaking and entering the dwelling house of another at night with the intent to commit a felony therein. Murder is the killing of a human being by another human being with malice aforethought. At common law: Intent = purposefully or knowingly
Pretty much all criminal law is now statutory. The common law has been grafted onto the statutes.
What is a crime?
Say some that what makes a crime different from a civil matter is the condemnation of the community, which is more important than the punishment. You can have a heavier punishment for a tort than for a crime, so it’s not the punishment that really distinguishes criminal from civil. It’s the community’s condemnation of you that makes the difference—you’re been found guilty of a crime.
Will this law be effective (except by coincidence)? (1) You must know of the law’s existence. (2) You need to “know about the circumstances of fact which make the abstract terms of the direction applicable in the particular instance”. You have to know how the law is going to apply to you. (3) You must be able to comply with the law. (4) You have to be willing to obey the law. This doesn’t mean you have to like the law.
Jury nullification
The jury is totally secret. It doesn’t have to explain itself. An acquittal from a jury is absolutely, positively final. Therefore, the jury can always acquit the defendant for any reason without being subject to sanction or appeal. Should juries have this power?
Advocates say that jury nullification protects against convictions that are legal but n

u use the penal system to change the person such that they won’t want to do bad acts in the future; you diagnose the problem and then solve it.
Act-utilitarian – What would be the right thing to do in this particular case?
Rule-utilitarian – What would be the better outcome if we announced this to the entire world? What would be the utilitarian effect?
“The punishment of a wrongdoer is justified because it is a deserved response to the wrongdoing.” You can’t be angry at someone unless you believe they have the capacity to choose to either do right or wrong. Retributivists focus on people having free choice or free will. The retributivist says that it is society’s duty to punish and that this duty is independent of the consequences or costs or benefits.
Forms of Retributivism: (1) Negative retribution (utilitarianism*) – utilitarians, except punishing an innocent person is never justified. (2) Positive retribution – pure retributivism: you must punish guilty people, and you must never punish an innocent person. (3) Assultive – anger and hatred are morally right when directed at criminals. This is kind of a disguised utilitarianism: if people hate a criminal, they will institution