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Criminal Law
University of Toledo School of Law
Harris, David A.

Criminal Law Outline                                                                                                                                                           Professor Harris

Elements of Crimes:
Prosecution must prove ALL beyond a reasonable doubt.
Lawyers must:
Identify what is charged
Locate/study statute (source of statute)
Compare the proven evidence to the elements, and ask whether there is proof of each. ASSUME NOTHING
Theories of Punishment:
Utilitarian (greatest good for greatest number)
Presumptions not allowed:
Proven A therefore presume element B
Inferences allowed:
Proven A and with evidence you (the jury) can infer B
Rule of lienty:
If interpretation is ambiguous decide favoring defendant
COMMON LAW                                                                                           MODEL PENAL CODE
Actus Reas: “Bad Act”  [certain minimum mental requirement] Willed Movement (more than a mere physical occurrence)
Exceptionà Omissions
i.      Statute
ii.      Status Relationships
iii.      Contractual Duties
iv.      Creating risk or harm to other
1.       One voluntarily assumes the care of another and secluded others from providing aid to the helpless person

Mens Rea: Guilty Mind, Bad Intent
Ordinarily is defined to include not only those results that are the conscious object of the actor – what he wants to occur – but also those results that the actor knows are virtually certain to occur from his conduct, even if he does not want them to arise.

1.       General Intent- Volitional, doing of a prohibited act. Only require intent to commit the act constituting the crime. Can infer all mens rea from observing the conduct.

2.       Specific Intent- A mental state in addition to any necessary for the crime itself (says “with intent”)
i.      Intent to do some further act or cause some additional consequence beyond that which must have been committed or caused in order to complete the crime.
a.       Future Act
b.       Special Motive
c.       Awareness of circumstances

Recklessness (same)
i.                     Conscious disregard
ii.                   Substantial and unjustifiable risk

Negligently (same)
i.      Should be aware of risk but is not
ii.      Gross deviation from reasonable standard

Transferred Intent: (Common Law Only)
·         Mens Rea transfers victim to victim in same crime, but not across different crimes

Strict Liability:
·         No Mens Rea required
o        No proof of mental state needed
o        E.g. traffic tickets, pure food and drug laws (social harms)
·         Typically light penalty
o        Exception is statutory rape

Willful Blindness:
No such thing

Mistake of Fact:
·         Reasonable belief
·         Specific Intent Crimes:
o      (subjective only) Mistake in fact if honestly made – can be a defense whether or not it is unreasonable
·         General Intent Crime:
o      (objective & subjective) Mistake must be honestly made and reasonable

Mistake of Law:
o        But mistake of law is a defense if ∆ could prove act was permitted by statute, decision, administrative order, or official interpretation and then later found to be erroneous, however it is rarely used.

Actus Reas: “Bad Act” [certain minimum mental requirement] MPC 2.01- Willed movement (more than a mere physical occurrence)
Not Willed Movement
·         Reflex
·         Bodily Movement while sleeping

                             ii.      Circumstances
1.       Substantial/unjustifiable risk
iii.      Results
1.       That the element exists and will result
a.       Risk of nature/degree that actor’s failure to see it involves a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would do

Transferred Intent:
·         Not in MPC, BUT, there is the idea of “general” mens rea intent to commit crime, in other words there is no specific victim

Strict Liability:
·         MPC 2.05- There is strict liability [same idea as common law]

Willful Blindness:
·         MPC 2.02 (7)
Defendant willfully closed eyes to what is obvious to them/ high probability to be true (subjective) then knowledge element is satisfied unless defendant actually believes fact not to be true.

Mistake of Fact:
·         MPC 2.04 (1)
o        The mistake of fact need not be reasonable as long as it negates the state of mind required for liability
§         You either have the state of mind or you don’t

Mistake of Law:
MPC 2.04 (3)
A mistaken belief that the conduct does not constitute an offense is a defense if:
The statute is not known to the actor and has not been published or defendant acted in reasonable reliance on an official statement of the law, afterward determined to be invalid or erroneous constrained in:
judicial decision
administrative order
an official interpretation of the officer or body charged by law with responsibility with interpreting.
Burden on ∆ to prove this by a preponderance of the evidence