University of Mississippi
A. Types of Jurisdictions of Criminal Law
1. Common Law Jurisdiction
2. Model Penal Code
3. Mississippi Law
1. Steps of Criminal Procedure:
a. Crime – someone claims to have been committed
b. Background Investigation
c. Arrest (jurisdiction)
d. Initial Appearance (constitutional right to make bail – may have to plea at this stage – charges made)
e. Preliminary Hearing (when court determines whether probable cause exists)
f. Grand jury decides whether to issue indictment
g. Arraignment (plea opportunities at this stage), (if no plea – automatically not guilty),
i. Jury Instructions: given by judge
C. Trial by Jury
1. Specifics: From 6th Amendment: right to trial by impartial jury of peers.
a. If jury finds verdict against P, case over. P can’t appeal.
b. If hung jury – D can be re-prosecuted.
c. Double Jeopardy – can’t be tried for the same crime twice
d. Corpus Delicti – “the body of the crime” – proof beyond reasonable doubt that the elements of the offense have been committed (not necessarily have to have body to be convicted) – the material or substance upon which a crime was committed (body, house, etc.); substantive fact of crime; evidence of act and agency
D. Proof of Guilt at Trial
1. Proof: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (must prove beyond reasonable doubt to show crime committed); issues bc hard for judge to define to jury, so judges often don’t define it; (jurors state of mind may differ in perceptions of “beyond reasonable doubt”)
a. In re Winship – required by due process clause “to protect citizens from tremendous power of state”
· French Instruction – “Thoroughly Convinced” would be unconstitutional
b. Owens v. State – man convicted of drunk driving – appeals based on lack of evidence – couldn’t prove beyond reasonable doubt; no breathalyzer, couldn’t tell if he’d just gotten in the truck – about to leave, or had already been somewhere (on public hwy and was coming); arrested while parked in private driveway – passed out with open, empty beer cans in truck.
· Conviction based on circumstantial evidence: 2 presumptions: going or coming; one guilty, one innocent
– In criminal cases based solely on circumstantial evidence, the evidence must exclude every reasonable hypothesis of innocence. (MS Law)
E. Jury Nullification – jury basically disregards the law, though it may apply, for reasons like: a) they don’t think it should be the law, b) sympathy, etc. – it is lawful, but most American cts won’t encourage it.
1. State v. Ragland – ct. says jury nullification is not a right, even though it is a power. Ct. doesn’t want to encourage jury nullification though by giving special instructions regarding its existence to the jury. (policy reasons: laws are made to be followed)
– power of the jury to acquit despite overwhelming evidence of guilt is Not
F. Theories on Punishment – punishing the offender –
1. Utilitarian (Consequentalist) – whether an act or social practice is morally desirable depends on whether it promotes human happiness better than other alternatives.
a. Incapacitation – theory for neutralizing people who might do harm but who aren’t necessarily morally to blame – keep the criminal from harming others (ex. Capital punishment – not alive to hurt anyone else)
b. Deterrence – deterring a certain type of behavior
i. Individual Deterrence – deterring a particular individual from doing something again
ii. General Deterrence – deterring the public in general from doing something wrong by punishing one person – deters others from committing that crime
§ Unable to determine how effective it is
§ To some degree, the effect of deterrence is greater based on how great the punishment is; however, juries are more reluctant to enforce more severe punishments.
c. Rehabilitation/Reform – trying to deter someone from committing crimes by attempting to reform their line of thinking and to provide opportunities to make positive changes in order to safely interact with society
– Not sure that it really works.
2. Retribution – getting even w/those who have caused harm touches an emotional need to fire back at someone – “eye for an eye” – vengeance against criminal for crime
i. “got you last” effect
ii. Sometimes not available
iii. Sometimes would create another wrong
G. Necessity Defense: Illuminates theories of punishment
o Common Law: Historical Sense: the English origins of law; development of law in American jurisdictions
a. The Queen v. Dudley and Stephens – four men stranded at sea, 3 decide to kill 4th in order to eat/survive. Issue over whether they should be convicted of felony murder, whether “necessity” justifies the act. – ct. held starvation no excuse; murder not justified – convicted (bc otherwise, nec. defense could be easily abused).
– No duty to save your own life at the expense of another.
– At common law, no general defense of necessity.
– “awful danger of necessity defense” – who benefits? Who decides?
– None of the utilitarian approaches to punishment would’ve deterred them from deciding to kill. (incapacitation n/a bc it was an extreme circumstance, probably wouldn’t do it again; rehabilitation – no need to reform them, not necessarily bad people, just an extreme situation; deterrence – n/a – won’t do that again by choice) retribution, however, is more applicable.
– Lord Bacon’s approach: justified if necessity
– Lord Hale’s approach: never justified
o Model Penal Code –
a. §3.01 – Justification is an as Affirmative Defense , and even if conduct proves justifiable, that doesn’t bar civil remedies
b. §3.02 – (1) conduct actor believes necessary to avoid harm or ev
ol actions in an unconscious state. Have to have voluntary act!
d. Automatism NOT a defense when state of unconsciousness was voluntarily induced.
– Must have guilt mind & guilty act.
e. Ct. held not enough evidence to prove that stabbing was a conditioned response – we don’t know if son snuck up behind him, no witnesses, etc.
– Note 6: People v.Decina– epileptic driver suffers seizure, causes wreck – kills 4 children – Voluntary act: choosing to drive knowing of epileptic condition; Note 7: Unknowing possession – (ex: unaware that someone put drugs in suitcase)- MPC 2.01 (4): “Possession is a voluntary act when item is knowingly procured or person had a choice to get rid of it.”
B. Omissions – failing to perform a required act – (Negative Acts)
1. Five situations where duty to act exists: (note 2 p 139)
– Status (husband/wife; special relationship)
– Contract (lifeguard duty to save drowning victim)
– Voluntarily Assume (helpless person and preventing others from rendering aid)
– D created the Risk
2. People v. Beardley – man’s wife out of town, has affair; “other woman” overdoses in D’s home, D failed to get medical help for her.
a. Must have a legal duty to act. – more than just a moral obligation
b. General Rule: no duty to act.
4. Barber v. Superior Ct. – patient in coma after surgery; drs. advise family of poor chance of survival; family removes life support – patient continues to live for two days; then removes feeding tube. Family sues drs. for murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
a. Issue over whether drs. had duty to continue to provide life-sustaining treatment – is unplugging an act or omission?
§ Ct. rules Omission – no duty to continue to act where it is family decision to remove support (family asks drs. to)
b. What it means to be “dead’ – cessation of brain function vs. cessation of heart and lungs
§ Brain Dead – not irreversible cessation of brain function but still breathing w/o tubes, unconsciousness
c. Murder: unlawful killing of a human being, with malice aforethought
d. Drs. and Family agree in this case – had consent, so not murder
C. Three Different Kinds of Act/Conduct Elements:
1. Result – law isn’t punishing a person for the resulting harm, for an unwanted outcome (ex. Death or arson)
2. Conduct – law prohibits specific behavior
3. Attendant Circumstances – condition that must be present, in conjunction w/the prohibited conduct or result, in order to constitute the crime.