CRIMINAL LAW OUTLINE
PROFESSOR COYNE – SPRING 2009
INTRO TO CRIM LAW
Criminal Law v. Civil Law
® Criminal Law: the goal is punishment (incarceration or fine)
® Civil Law: the goal is restitution
Goals of Criminal Law
® Utilitarian- it is a benefit to society to deter crimes; rehabilitate criminals; retribution; incapacitation; shaming
® Specific Deterrence: deterring the criminal
® General Deterrence: deterring the “would-be” criminal
® Rehabilitation: take them out of society, and put them in an institution/program to make the offender less likely to re-offend.
® Lex talionis- an eye for an eye
-Murder is the only example of “perfect justice” in our criminal justice system.
® Rome Statute: International War Crimes Tribunal- The Hague
-prosecute government leaders who have engaged in atrocities
® Inchoate Offense: attempted crime
THE ELEMENTS OF A CRIMINAL OFFENSE
[Actus Reus + Mens Rea + Attendant Circumstances + Causation + Harmful Result] – [Affirmative Defenses] -Prosecution's burden to prove the first part
-∆'s burden to prove the second part
® Actus Reus- the act itself (guilty act)
-voluntary act or omission that causes social harm
-may refer to any or all of the following conditions:
3. wrongful or potentially harmful
5. specified >
6. in advance > DP requires notice and oppty to be heard
7. by statute >
The Need for an Actus Reus
· Proctor v. State
o keeping a place w/ intent to distribute alcohol
o keeping a place is not an unlawful act… does it cause social harm?
o Proctor did not have possession, only intent
-Possession may have been more punishable offense because it is a step closer to causing the harmful result.
o Information: statement of facts alleged by state (petition)
-can also be done by a Grand Jury issuing of an indictment
o ∆'s lawyer demurs: Even if ∆ did everything alleged, it was not sufficient to be criminal.
-Equal to civil law's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
o Failure to allege an overt act that is guilty—the statute is ultra vires (beyond the legislature's power)
o Must raise objections at the trial in order to appeal w/ those objections.
® Omissions can only be an actus reus when there is a duty to act and a breach of that duty.
· Jones v. U.S.
o Woman leaves baby at friend (Jones)'s house. Baby died of neglect, malnutrition
o Involuntary manslaughter conviction was reversed because the instructions failed to suggest the necessity of finding a legal duty owed by Jones to the baby—Plain Error
-Plain Error: error so extreme that it might explain why ∆ didn't object; contemporaneous objection rule does not apply.
-Contemporaneous objection rule: ∆ must object at earliest opportunity the error appears in the case. Failure to object is a waiver of that objection.
® Five situations in which an omission constitutes a criminal actus reus:
1. Where a statute imposes a duty to care for another.
2. Where one stands in a certain status relationship to another.
3. Where one has assumed a contractual duty to care for another.
4. Where one has voluntarily assumed the care of another and so secluded the helpless person as to prevent others from rendering aid.
5. Where one created the peril.
® OUJI- Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions.
· U.S. v. Maldonado
o ∆ must have knowledge (mens rea) of what you are possessing
o Before Zavala had possession, he knew Santos had it.
-There is a duty to report. According to federal statute, if not reported = felony.
o When the door locks behind them, Zavala had possession because he had the key.
o Dissent (Coffin): The drugs hadn't been paid for yet; Zavala didn't want the drugs in his room.
® Actual possession
® Constructive possession:
1. Power over the thing (access)
2. The intent to control it
-Both elements must be proved beyond reasonable doubt
® Why criminalize mere possession?
-Possession increases the risk of drug use and/or distribution
The Requirement of Harm
· Lawrence v. Texas
o Sodomy: bestiality, anal sex, oral sex
o TX Sodomy = “deviate sexual intercourse”
o no lo contendere: ∆ neither accepts nor denies the charge but accepts the punishment
o TX's argument is based on the SCt's decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, in which a similar Georgia statute was upheld.
o US SCt overturned Bowers and overturned the ∆s' convictions
o The right to engage in intimate contact w/ another consenting adult is a liberty right
o 1970s: when states started criminalizing homosexual behavior
The Requirement of Voluntariness
· People v. Newton
o voluntary acts: brain commands muscles to do something; willed muscular contraction
o involuntary acts: non-willful muscular contraction (epileptic seizure, sleepwalking)
-General Rule: As long as ∆'s conduct included a voluntary act + social harm, the ∆ is guilty.
o ∆ brought a gun onto a plane from the Bahamas to Luxembourg. The pilot landed in NYC.
o The ∆ did not voluntarily bring it into the U.S., so not guilty
· Martin v. State
o “manifests a drunken condition by boisterous or indecent conduct, or loud and profane discourse”
· People v. Grant
o ∆ assaulted a police officer at the bar
o ∆ argues that striking the officer was not a volitional act because at that moment he was having an epileptic seizure
-relies on testimony of a psychiatrist
o Jury instructions did not contain instructions on defense of involuntary conduct but only an insanity instruction
-defense lawyers failed to contemporaneously ask for such an instruction, but judge should have provided it anyway—this is why the app ct will review the case
® Acts performed while sleepwalking may fall outside the definition of voluntary behavior necessary for criminal liability
· People v. (Huey) Newton
o ∆ and a police officer struggled over a gun, and the gun went off, wounding the officer. The wounded officer then shot ∆.
o A gunshot wound is very likely to produce a profound reflex shock reaction; it's not uncommon for a person shot in the abdomen to lose consciousness and go into this reflex shock condition for short periods of time up to half and hour or so.
· People v. Decina
o Negligent driving because ∆ suffered epileptic seizure and killed 4 people.
rohibitum offenses usually increase the risk of bad things happening
o Malum in se offenses actually cause present harm
· U.S. v. Wulff
o ∆ sold a necklace made of bird parts in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
o Statute prohibits the selling of a migratory bird
o ∆ argues that a felony conviction is too harsh because it stigmatizes the ∆, who loses civil rights and can be imprisoned for up to 2 years.
o ∆ argues a felony conviction would deprive him of due process because a mens rea requirement was not included
o The court had previously held that the legislature didn't intend for there to be a mens rea element, but now held that the imposition of a felony conviction is too harsh because the statute does not require proof of scienter… ∆ should only be guilty of a misdemeanor.
o Strict Liability should be lower-level punishment
Public Welfare Offenses: Food/Drug, Traffic
® Conduct that is not morally blameworthy
® Usually punished by fine and no imprisonment
® Don't stigmatize the offender
® 95% of criminal law is practiced in state courts
Common Law: Felony v. Misdemeanor
® Felony: imprisonment for more than 1 year in a state penitentiary
® Misdemeanor: imprisonment for up to 1 year in a county jail
· U.S. v. X-Citement Video
o Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation Act prohibits knowingly transporting or shipping in interstate or foreign commerce any visual depiction involving the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and the depiction is of such conduct.
o “Knowingly” applied to the fact that a minor was used in the film.
· U.S. v. Dotterweich
o CEO of Pharmaceutical company was selling misbranded and adulterated drugs
o The statute only effectively applied to those who stood in responsible relation to the illegal shipment.
o This is within the category of malum prohibitum.
· Lambert v. California
o failing to register as a convicted felon (omission)
o ∆ was unaware that she had to register
o Generally, ignorance of the law is not a defense
o SCt said the prosecutor cannot convict unless he proves that the ∆ had notice of her duty to register
-has been applied to cases where the actus reus is a passive omission and the offense is not malum in se.
Model Penal Code
® American Legal Institute
® Standard/potential standard for what a state penal code should be
Categories of Culpability
· Regina v. Faulkner
o trying to steal some rum, burned down the boat
o trespass in the hold because was not allowed to be there
o bored a hole in the cask with a gimlet to get the rum out: malicious damage of property