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Criminal Law
University of Mississippi School of Law
Hoffheimer, Michael

CRIMINAL LAW
SPRING 2002 – HOFFHEIMER
 
 
 
 
 
I.                  BASIC CULPABILITY DOCTRINES
A.    Corpus Delicti – “body of the crime”
1.      material upon which the crime was committed, or
2.      substantive fact of crime (evidence of act & agency)
 
B.     Mens Rea
1.      Model Penal Code: a person is not guilty of offense unless he acted purposefully, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently with respect to each material element of the offense
 
2.      recklessness is the default level of culpability; so if MPC is silent, there must be at least a showing of recklessness
 
3.      if statute is silent, negligence does not establish culpability unless the statute explicitly states it will suffice
 
4.      when the law prescribes the level of culpability but does not distinguish among the different elements, the stated level of culpability applies to all the material elements
 
5.      no mens rea needed for crimes of strict liability
–          US Supreme Court in Baliant held that strict liability is only applicable to public welfare cases; all others will require mens rea
–          MPC does not recognize strict liability crimes
 
6.      limitations on mens rea is intoxication and mistake
 
 
C.     General & Specific Intent
1.      General Intent: intent to do an act with no particular outcome in mind
–          crime that is subject to strict liability
 
2.      Specific Intent: intent to do some further at or cause additional consequences
–          high level of directed intent (ex: assault with intent to murder)
 
3.      presumption of intent: it is often difficult for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the D did something with a particular state of mind; the burden is made easier by statutory and judge-made presumptions under which the jury is permitted to infer the presumed fact that the D acted purposely or intentionally
 
 
 
 
 
D.    Voluntary Intoxication
1.      in MS, voluntary intoxication is NOT available as a defense if the defendant was unable to tell the difference between right and wrong when sober (McDaniel v. State)
 
2.      US Supreme Court: due process is not offended when state keeps evidence of voluntary intoxication from jury consideration
 
3.      at common law, voluntary intoxication IS a defense to specific intent crimes; NOT a defense to general intent crimes
–          because it negates the required mental element
 
4.      MPC: negates crimes requiring purposely or knowingly; does not negate crimes requiring recklessly or negligently
 
5.      most courts have begun to recognize that intoxication as a defense should be made on a case by case basis
 
 
E.     Involuntary Intoxication
1.      MPC 2.08(4): involuntary intoxication is an affirmative defense if, by reason of such intoxication, the defendant at the time of the conduct lacked substantial capacity to:
a.       appreciate the criminality of the act
b.      conform his conduct to the law
 
2.      examples of when involuntary intoxication will be recognized as a defense:
–          duress
–          prescription drugs
–          mistake as to nature of substance
 
 
F.     Mistake of Fact
1.      general rule: is a defense if it negates the purpose, knowledge, belief, recklessness or negligence that is required to established the element
 
2.      exception: not allowable as a defense if person would have been guilty of another offense
 
3.      mistake must be reasonable
 
4.      cannot apply to a strict liability crime
 
G.    Mistake of Law
1.      general rule: is never a defense
 
2.      exception: violation of the law is an element of the offense
 
3.      MPC 2.02 (9): neither lack of knowledge or recklessness or negligence as to whether conduct constitutes an offense is an element of the offense
 
H.    Malum In Se: wrong in itself (ex: murder)
 
 
 
I.       Malum Prohibitum: wrong because it is prohibited (ex: Prohibition)
1.      most malum prohibitum crimes are recent (100-150 years)
 
2.      malum prohibitum crimes do not require a mental element; strict liability
 
3.      Hoff: congress needs to explicitly state that there is no mens rea requirement; when it is silent you have to look at legislative intent
 
J.       Actus Reus: conduct or behavior or omissions
1.      general rule: must have some act to be a crime
 
2.      reasons:
–          evidentiary: difficult to prove intent without an act
–          moral: cannot punish bad thoughts
 
 
3.      must be a voluntary act
a.       RULE: there is a requirement of a voluntary act and automatism does not constitute a voluntary act
b.      MPC 2.01: following acts are not voluntary:
1.      reflex or convulsion
2.      movement during unconsciousness or sleep
3.      conduct during hypnosis
4.      any bodily movement that is not the product of an effort of the actor
c.       exception: if a person knows they are a potential danger or have a condition, they an be held criminally liable for an involuntary act (example: seizures)
 
4.      omissions
a.       MPC 2.01(3): an omission not accompanied by an act is not a crime unless the omission is expressly defined by law or there was a duty to perform the omitted act
b.      RULE: omissions are not sufficient unless there is a duty
c.       RULE: there is no requirement to help someone, even if you have a guilty mind; cannot have caused the danger
d.      Legal duties are established by:
1.      statute
2.      status or relationship (parent/child, husband/wife)
3.      assume a contractual duty/agreement
4.      voluntarily assume the care of an other
e.       A moral duty is not enough; must be a legal duty
 
 
K.    Culpability
1.      Purposely: conscious objective (intent)
 
2.      Knowingly: awareness; practical certainty of result
 
3.      Reckelessly: conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that is a gross deviation of what a law abiding citizen would do
 
4.      Negligently: should have been aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk and failure to perceive the risk is a gross deviation from reasonable person
–          completely objective
 
5.      when statute is silent as to the culpability requirement, it may or may not be strict liability; look to the following to determine it is:
–          age of statute
–          legislative intent
–          are of extensive regulations
–          whether the conduct is hazardous
–          level of punishment
–          whether it is a public risk
 
6. public welfare crimes require no culpable mental state—strict

le standards of clarity aren’t required & probably aren’t required
 
6.      def. of overbreadth: concern that a statute oversteps legal boundaries
 
7.      there can be more regulation for private residences than public places
–          reasonable time, place & manner restrictions
 
8.      “fighting words” can be regulated
–          def: words/statements that would reasonably induce violent retaliation
 
B.     Sentencing Discretion
1.      People v. Pointer
a.       sentencing must be reasonable
1.      must have a relationship to the crime
2.      must not relate to conduct which is not itself criminal
3.      must not require or forbid conduct which is not reasonably related to future crime
b.      sentencing cannot be overbroad
1.      test for overbreadth: necessity
 
 
C.     Capital Punishment
1.      murder is the only crime subject to the death penalty (Cohen)
–          there are a few uncertainties (ex: forcible rape of minors)
 
2.      problem with the death penalty: racial discrimination
 
3.      reasons for capital punishment:
–          incapacitation
–          deterrence
–          retribution
–          rehabilitation
 
IV.             CRIMINAL HOMICIDE
A.    Murder: Meaning of Malice Aforethought
1.      definied by Wm. Blackstone: (1) the unlawful killing of a (2) reasonable creature with (3) malice aforethought
 
2.      malice aforethought (same as malice prepense)
a.       intent to kill (regardless of motive
b.      intent to inflict serious bodily injury
c.       extreme recklessness
d.      felony murder
 
3.      express malice (deliberate killing)
 
4.      implied malice (absence of provocation)
 
5.      manslaughter: criminal homicide but which is not murder
a.       involuntary manslaughter: killing without malice that occurs during an unlawful act
b.      voluntary manslaughter: intent to kill but presence of provocation mitigates in what would have been murder
 
6.      provocation
a.       will reduce murder to manslaughter if legally adequate provocation
b.      elements for provocation
1.      must be reasonable
2.      D was provoked
3.      reasonable man would not have cooled off
4.      D did not cool off
c.       actual provocation or heat of passion (physical attack, threat of physical attack, adultery)
d.      legally adequate
1.      assault to killer
2.      assault to 3rd party
3.      adultery
a.       strictly construed
b.      had to be a spouse
c.       killer had to confront 3rd person
4.      imperfect self-defense
a.       excessive force
b.      unreasonable belief that force was needed
e.       cann