Where Criminal Law Comes From
English common law is the basis for our criminal law, but today criminal law comes from statutes.
A majority of the issues in the cases on appeal (which we are reading) come from:
Motions to dismiss
Standard in a Trial: Did the prosecution (state) prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt?
Can ask jury to draw inference (if A, then maybe B)
Cannot ask jury to presume (if A, then B)
I. Theories of Punishment
a. Utilitarianism – The punishment is justifiable if, but only if, it is expected to result in a reduction of crime… punishment must be proportional to crime
b. Deterrence – Punishment justified in terms of both general deterrence and specific (or individual) deterrence. When the goal is general deterrence, punishment is imposed to dissuade the community at large to forego criminal conduct in the future.
c. Incapacitation – 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).
d. Rehabilitation – Also called reform. Examples of rehabilitative “punishment” include: psychiatric care, therapy for drug addiction, or academic or vocational training.
e. Retributivism – “Eye for an Eye” – D is punished simply because he deserves it. Deterring/protecting society not a motive. The goal is to make the defendant suffer in order to pay for his crime. Assigns punishment on a proportional basis…crimes that cause greater harm or are committed with a higher degree of culpability (intentional over negligent) receive more severe punishment than lesser criminal activity.
II. Legality – “no crime without (pre-existing) law, no punishment without (pre-existing) law”
i. Jurisdictional tension…SOP, the legislative makes the law
ii. Court is hesitant (not allowed) to make law only interpret it
iii. Lenity doctrine: interpretation of ambiguous statutes should be biased in favor of the accused.
1. The Model Penal Code…no lenity. Section 1.02(3) requires instead that ambiguities be resolved in a manner that furthers the general purposes of the Code and the specific provision at issue.
iv. Keeler…California legislature responded by changing the murder statute to include “…or a fet
me – may still be deemed voluntary.
2. Involuntary includes: spasms, seizures, and bodily movements while unconscious or asleep.
3. If “involuntary act” is voluntarily induced, become voluntary
a. Note 4 (pg. 128) voluntary
b. Note 5…lacks blameworthy state of mind (mens rea)
c. Note 6…Intentionally put himself in car knowing his condition, punishment will be less
4. MPC 2.01…on page 993
a. Not a voluntary action
ii. Mov’t while sleeping
iv. Mov’t not product of willed mov’t