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Criminal Law
University of Oklahoma College of Law
Coyne, Randall T.

                 Deterrence – The utilitarian theory is essentially one of deterrence – punishment is justifiable if, but only if, it is expected to result in a reduction                                 of crime. Punishment must be proportional to the crime, i.e., that punishment be inflicted in the amount required (but no more than                                                 is required) to satisfy utilitarian crime prevention goals. Utilitarian’s consider the effect of a form of punishment in terms of both                                         general deterrence and specific (or individual) deterrence. When the goal is general deterrence, punishment is imposed in order to                                                 dissuade the community at large to forego criminal conduct in the future. When the goal is specific deterrence, punishment is meant to                                             deter future misconduct by an individual                defendant by both preventing him from committing crimes against society during the period                                     of his incarceration (incapacitation), and reinforcing to him the consequences of future crimes (intimidation).
                Rehabilitation – Another form of utilitarianism is rehabilitation (or reform). Examples of rehabilitative “punishment” include: psychiatric care,                                                 therapy for drug addiction, or academic or vocational training.
                Under a retributive theory of penal law, a convicted defendant is punished simply because he deserves it. There is no exterior motive such as                                    deterring others from crime or protecting society – here the goal is to make the defendant suffer in order to pay for his crime.                                            Retributive theory assigns punishment on a proportional basis so that crimes that cause greater harm or are committed with a higher                                 degree of culpability (e.g., intentional versus negligent) receive more severe punishment than lesser criminal activity.
Sources of Criminal Law
                Common Law                                 Common law is judge-made law. Even when superseded by statutory law, common law may serve to interpret ambiguous statutory                                    terms.
                Criminal Statutes
                                Today, statutory law is the prevailing source of criminal law and essentially has replaced common law. Although most states                                               have abolished common law crimes, a few have enacted “reception” statutes, expressly recognizing common law offenses when statutory                                                 law does not provide a punishment for such offense. In effect, such a statute “receives” the common law offenses in place at the time                         of the statute’s enactment.
                                Generally speaking, statutory law classifies a crime as a felony or a misdemeanor, both of which may be subdivided into degrees. A                                     felony is punishable by death or imprisonment in a state or federal prison. The maximum punishment for a misdemeanor is a                                              monetary fine, incarceration in a local jail, or both. Some jurisdictions also have an additional classification of “violation” or                                              “infraction” for which only a monetary fine is authorized.
                Model Penal Code – Although the Code – published by the American Law Institute – is not the law in any jurisdiction, it stimulated adoption of                                 revised penal codes in at least thirty-seven states. Although some state legislatures have adopted only small portions of the Model                                       Code as their own, other jurisdictions (including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Oregon) have enacted many of its                                            provisions. Courts, on their own, sometimes turn to the Model Code and its supporting commentaries for guidance in interpreting                                    non-Code criminal statutes.
Principle of Legality- 5th and 14th Due process
                Common Law
                                 A person may not be punished unless his conduct was defined as criminal at the time of commission of the offense. This prohibition                                 on retroactive criminal lawmaking constitutes the essence of the principle of legality.
                There are three interrelated corollaries to the legality principle:
                                (1) Criminal statutes should be understandable to reasonable law-abiding persons. A criminal statute must give “sufficient warning to                                                                 men of common intelligence as to what conduct is unlawful.” A person is denied due process of law if he is convicted and                                                          punished for violation of a statute that lacks such clarity.
                                (2) Criminal statutes should not delegate basic policy matters to police officers, judges, and juries for resolution on an ad hoc and                                                       subjective basis. 
                                (3) Judicial interpretation of ambiguous statutes should “be biased in favor of the accused” (the lenity doctrine).
                {[Actus Rea + Mens Rea] + Attendant Circumstances + Causation + Harmful Result }– Affirmative Defense 
                 [Must be concurrent or synchronicity]                 {Prosecution must prove these elements}
Causation- link between actus rea and mens rea
Attendant circumstances- any facts which are neither act, intent, causation, or harm
                 An “attendance circumstance” is a fact or condition that must be present at the time the defendant engages in the prohibited conduct and/or                 causes the prohibited result that constitutes the social harm of the offense. Often an attendant circumstance is an element of the offense, e.g.,                 the crime of burglary – the breaking and entering of the dwelling house of another at nighttime – contains an elemental attendant circumstance                 that the crime must occur at night.
Mens Rea- mental element, the guilty mind
Actus Rea- sufficiently bad act to merit criminal liability, criminal conduct must include some action or failure to act
Requirements of an “Act”
                 (1)Past act that was a (2) voluntary (3) wrongful (4) conduct (5) specified (6) in advance (7) by statute.
                The principle of legality demands that crimes be proscribed by law in order to enhance autonomy and protect privacy and equality
The Need for an Actus Reus
                “Actus reus” refers to the physical aspect of the criminal activity. The term generally includes (1) a voluntary act (2) that causes (3) social                                        harm.
                 Burden of Proof – Although a defendant may raise as a defense that his conduct was not voluntary, the voluntariness of an act proscribed by                                    criminal law is in fact an element of the crime, and as such, the prosecution bears the burden of proving such fact.
                The prosecution does not need to show, however, that every act was voluntary in order to establish culpability. It is sufficient that the                                                               defendant’s conduct – which is the actual and proximate cause of the social harm – included a voluntary act.
                Proctor v. State- Section 206: “an act and evil intent must combine to constitute in law a crime.” Section 207: “act and intent must coincide”-                 intent is a poor predictor of future behavior
Omission-Failure to act
                (1)Required by statute-taxes (2) status relationships- husband to wife, parent to child, bartend to client (3) contractual duty (4) voluntarily                 assumed care and caused seclusion of helpless
(5)If you place someone in peril you have obligation to act according to your ability
Jones v. US
Possession- increased risk of harm
MPC § 2.01- is an act when (1) knowingly procured or received the thing possessed or was aware had control (2) for a sufficient period of time to be able to terminate possession NOTE: definition of “knowing” for possession is not as strict as that required for intent, willful blindness works
                US v. Maldonado
                Constructive possession- sole or joint- (1) effective power or dominion over thing (2) with intention to control it
                Manual of Model Criminal Jury Instructions 8.02-
                                Actual- direct physical control
Constructive possession- sole or joint- (1) effective power or dominion over thing (2) with intention to control it (3) either directly or thru another
Voluntariness- a willed muscular contraction
                Purpose of law is to deter, cannot deter acts which people cannot control
                MPC § 2.01 Requirements for Voluntary Acts- (1) person is not guilty of an offense unless voluntary conduct
                                but a voluntary act leading to loss of control may still result in criminal culpability (e.g., inebriation)
                                (4) Possession includes a voluntary act, if the possessor knowingly received or procured the thing possessed or was aware of his                                           control and had sufficient period to terminate possession.”
                MPC § 2.01- Involuntary Acts
(a) Reflex or convulsion (b) bodily movement during unconsciousness or sleep (c) during hypnosis (d) moement that is not a product of conscious effort
                People v. Newton
                Martin v. State
People v. Grant- automatism
Status Crimes
Robinson v. California-Cannot punish for propensity. The Court likened the law to one making it a criminal offense “to be mentally ill, or a leper, or to be afflicted with a venereal disease,” and argued that the state could not punish persons merely because of their “status” of addiction
                Johnson v. State
Legality Defense-Abolishment of Common Law
                All acts must be prohibited by law- Art. III- bill of attainder, No Ex Post Facto 
Rogers v. Tennessee
                Bouie v. City of Columbia 
                Criminal law must clearly demarcate criminal conduct form permitted action, enhances autonomy
The law should be certain enough so that persons who want to determine legality of their conduct can do so without being held responsible for something they believe to be permissible.
Criminal liability and punishment can be based only upon a prior legislative enactment of a prohibition that is expressed with
(1) adequate precision, and
(2) clarity
Nullem crimen sin lege, nulla poena sine lege- No crime without law, no punishment without law
Prohibition of Ex Post Facto Laws (as a matter of procedural fairness)
(1) every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal
(2) every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed
(3) every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed the crime, when committed
                Chicago v. Morales
Proportionality of Punishment to Crime- 8th Amd. Cruel and Unusual
                Intent usually includes not only consciously planned actions, but also those that the person performs knowingly. (Purpose and Knowledge =                                      Intent)
                Intent not only includes those results that are a conscious object of the actor, but also those results that are virtually certain to occur from his                                  conduct, even if he does not want them to occur.
                “Transferred intent” doctrine: when a person intends harm to one person, but accidentally causes the harm to another, courts typically transfer                                 the intent to this act. (does not apply to attempt)NOTE: A person who voluntarily manslaughters another and in the process kills                                      another, courts have held that intent to kill for manslaughter can be transferred to convict for murder of unintended victim.
                General Intent- a voluntarily act that is statutorily prohibited ,the conduct is intended not necc the result,  proved by showing that the prohibited                                 result was caused by the voluntary act of the def.
                                If you can do it recklessly or neg it’s a general intent crime
                                Hendershott v. People-Those acts which mental culpability req are knowingly or willfully
                                All crimes require general intent(except strict liability)- which requires an awareness of all factors making up the crime- left for the jury                                                 to infer
                                Defenses: Mistake of fact- must be reasonable mistake of

lfare b/c juries may be ill-                suited to decide what is reasonable in complex, high-risk activities;
assures uniform treatment of particular, high risk conduct;
eases burden on prosecution to prove intent in difficult
legislatures determine risk is outweighed by need for additional protection of society and expeditious prosecution of certain                 cases
powerful public statement of legislative intolerance for certain behavior so legislature can claim to provide utmost                 protection from certain public harms.
                Mistake of Fact- is defense if it negates intent
                thinking a vial of cocaine was a vial of sugar- the mistake must negate the intent required (must knowingly possess)
                If the mistake of fact negates a specific intent the def lack req. mens rea. (intent), regardless of reasonableness
                If it’s a general intent crime the mistake must be reasonable (but if it’s reasonable but still morally wrong no def. (Prince case))
                People V. Bray
                                MPC § 2.04
                                        (1) ignorance or mistake…is a defense if (a) the ignorance or mistake negatives the purpose, knowledge, belief, recklessness                                                         or negligence required to establish a material element of the offense; or (b) the law provides that the state of mind                                                         established by such ignorance or mistake constitutes a defense
                Mistake ofLaw
                                A more limited defense than mistake of fact
                                Ignorance of the law, or making a mistake in interpreting the law.
                        ignorance of the law is no excuse
                        in general, at common law, even if the actor has attempted to learn the law (consulted lawyers, read the law, etc.) he is                               still guilty of the offense if he is mistaken at to what the law is.
                                Anyone could claim reliance on others as an excuse otherwise
                                Could promote collusion between defendants
        Ignorance of the law vs. mistake
                ignorance of the law—when the defendant does not know the act committed is even arguably criminal, no excuse
                                Exception: Unless knowledge of the criminality of the offnse is a req of the offense
                mistake of law—when the defendant knows that some law exists in relation to the act he committed, but was mistaken    in what the law was, no excuse
                                Exception: 1. Reasonable reliance- an official mis-statement of the law 2. Fair warning must be given 
                                EXCEPTIONS: Cases in which mistake of law is a defense
                                                (a) mistake of law is a defense if D lacks required mens rea [MPC § 2.04(1)]                                                 most statues do not contain an element that D must know he is engaged in criminal behavior, but if this is an element of                                                    the crime, and D lacks knowledge—there is a mistake of law
                                                (b) mistake of law is a defense if D relies on official misstatement of the law (reasonable reliance)
                                                                Official means:
                                                                                (1) a statute later declared to be invalid;
                                                                                (2) a judicial decision of the highest court in the jurisdiction, later determined to be erroneous; or
                                                                                (3) an official, but erroneous, interpretation of the law, secured from a public officer in charge of its                                                                                                  interpretation, administration, or enforcement, such as the Attorney General of the state or,                                                                                                                 in the case of federal law, of the United States.
                                                (c) mistake of law may also be a defense if there is insufficient notice of D’s legal duty (somewhat rare)
                                                                Lambert Defense: usually limited to regulatory crime of which D could have no notice
                                                                Namely, (1) it punished an omission (failure to register); (2) the duty to act was imposed on the basis of a status                                                                 (presence in Los Angeles), rather than on the basis of an activity; and (3) the offense was malum prohibitum. As a                                                                 result of these factors, there was nothing to alert a reasonable person to the need to inquire into the law.
                        This is an affirmative defense that the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence MPC§ 2.04(4)
        NOTE: MPC allows for a good faith belief