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Criminal Law
University of Kentucky School of Law
Welling, Sarah N.

Criminal Law

I Doctrine of Criminal Law
A) Prevention and Control of Crime
1) Deterrence of crime
(a) Mens rea is important in this element because how can you claim to deter something if a person did not do it intentionally
2) Incapacitation
(a) Putting people in jail because you’ve failed to deter them
3) Rehabilitation
B) Retribution
C) This is why every crime has two elements: mens rea: mental state
actus reus: conduct

II Basic Culpability Doctrines
A) Traditional Concepts
1) General mens rea
(a) A person is not guilty of an offense unless he acted purposefully, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently as the law may require with respect to each material element of the offense
(b) In the case of the man who accidentally set the boat on fire while stealing run, he was not found guilty of arson because he had no mens rea as to the fire.
(i) The law does not look to transferred intent; you have to have intent for that particular crime
(ii) Malicious Injuries to Property Act (sect 51): the act done must be in fact intentional and willful, although the intention and will may be held to exist in, or be proved by, the fact that the accused knew that the injury would be the probable result of his unlawful act, and yet did the act reckless of such consequences (basically, that they could foresee that it would happen and they still went through with the other crime)
(c) Mens rea may go to each element of the crime
(i) In the case of the man who lied to the government, we learned he had to know he was lying to the government (Yermian)
(ii) You have to apply mens rea to each piece of conduct separately
(iii) One must have the required degree of culpability with respect to each material element of the offense
(d) Model Penal Code looks at four types of culpability
(i) Purposefully: consciously engages in the conduct that is a crime
(ii) Knowingly: aware that condition is of that nature
(iii) Recklessly: involves conscious disregard of substantial and unjustifiable risk and its disregard involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a law-abiding person would observe in that situation
1. in other words . . . consciously ignores the risk
(iv) Negligently: a person’s failure to be aware of substantial risk that a wrongful act may occur that a reasonable man would have been aware of
1. in other words . . . not aware o

(i) You must define the mens rea for the crime first or look at the mens rea in the statute
(ii) Most crimes have a mens rea so in most cases knowledge of the facts is required and ignorance or mistake will be a defense
(iii) In the case with the lady bringing a gun in her purse to the airport, we saw that if the mens rea is negligence and it is a stupid mistake, then the mistake does not negate the mens rea
(iv) The mistake must be reasonable if it is a general intent crime but if it is a specific intent crime the mistake can be unreasonable [I take someone’s book thinking it is mine . . . I do not have the specific intent to steal] (b) If the crime does not have mens rea then it does not matter if there is a mistake of fact
(i) Like mistake of age is not a defense for statutory rape
(ii) This is a strict liability crime
the defense is not available if the defendant would be guilty of another offense had the situation been as he supposed