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Criminal Law
University of Kentucky School of Law
Fortune, William H.

Criminal Law Outline
Chapter 1: The Doctrines of Culpability
A. Mens Rea – “guilty mind”
– the defendant’s mental state is critical in determining whether to punish him
1) Traditional mens rea – broad notion of looking for a truly “immoral” person
2) Statutory mens rea – mental state required by the statute
– applying the “mens rea” term “intentionally” only to the conduct, and not asking whether the defendant knew it was immoral
B. Specific Kinds of Mens Rea
1) Intent – a person who intends harm is clearly a proper subject for punishment under the theory of punishment
a) In General
– if someone intends death and it occurs, then they are liable for intentional homicide (even if they think it won’t kill them… like throwing a feather that miraculously kills them)
– however, there is a difference b/n intending the conduct and intending the result
=> man might intend to pull trigger of a gun but not intend to kill person (could have wanted to hit a tree or might not have thought the gun was loaded)
b) Transferred Intent – when other results occur from an intended crime, defendant is still liable, as long as the results were of the same type of harmthat was actually intended
– ex.) if A shoots intending to kill B and instead kills C, A is still guilty of intentional homicide
– if A accidentally breaks a window by the same act, the intent is not transferred
c) Specific and General Intent Crimes
– a general intent crime is one that requires mens rea and that has no special or specific intent required
– ex.) “assault” is a general intent crime but “assault with intent to rape” is a specific intent crime… won’t always include “with intent to” however
2) Knowingly (Oblique Intent) – when someone intends an act with a very high certainly of another result, they can be found to have had mens rea
– when A intends to shoot B, but doesn’t intend to kill B, A is still liable b/c A knew death would most likely occur
– defendant does not need to intend the result to be guilty, he need only to know that the result is very likely
– sometimes the term “willfully” is used for this distinction, but courts have often found that this is too narrow
– “willful blindness” occurs when a person probably knows they are doing something but doesn’t check just so that they wouldn’t “know,” as required for mens rea
ð ex.) when a guy drive a car that he knows probably has drugs in it but doesn’t check, so he didn’t technically know that there were drugs there
ð courts do not allow such “willful blindness” to negate the required mens rea of “knowingly”
3) Recklessness – a conscious decision to ignore risk, of which

sonable person test is strong
C. Proving Mens Rea
– the state must prove the defendant’s actual mental state with regard to facts and result (for the first 3 kinds of mens rea)
– only way to determine this is by inference (primarily from the defendant’s conduct and words and secondarily from other facts that help us assess those inferences)
– motive is not typically allowed for a defense, but it can be used to help the prosecutor’s case, since from motive the jury may infer mens rea
D. Contemporanity
– the actus reus and the mens rea must coincide for the defendant to be liable
– however, a defendant is NOT liable if at one point (T) he has formed the requisite mens rea but he does not act upon it, but at a later time (T2) when the mens rea is not present, the harm he envisioned occurs
– also, a person can be guilty if the act occurs at one point (coinciding with mens rea) and the result occurs later
ex. A poisons B’s sugar and he eats it a week later, when A no longer wants to kill B (A is still liable b/c the act was poisoning the sugar)