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

I.) Introduction

A.) Nature of Criminal Law
1.) State brings case
a.) society as a “whole” is affected/concerned
Ex. State v. Smith, People v. Jones, etc.
2.) Punishment (“blameworthiness”)
a.) Retributive (“backward thinking”)
1.) a criminal should get the punishment he deserves
b.) Utilitarian (“forward thinking”)
1.) deterrence
2.) punishment should be of social utility
3.) rehabilitation
c.) Doctrine of Proportionality
1.) punishment should fit the crime
d.) Types
1.) fines
2.) imprisonment
3.) death
e.) Policy
1.) basic societal values: right v. wrong
2.) significance of harm
3.) what result is society seeking
3.) Principles of Legality
a.) Crime must be in effect at the time of the ∆’s action
b.) Why?
1.) No ex post facto laws (Keeler)
a.) may not make a law w/ a retroactive effect
2.) Due Process requirements
a.) notice; fair warning
3.) Separation of power doctrine
a.) legislature defines what a crime is
b.) courts interpret

B.) Burden of Proof and Burden of Production  
1.) Prosecutor must prove every element of the crime beyond a R doubt
a.) Direct v. Circumstantial Evidence
1.) Direct (no inferences required)
a.) statements to someone else – confession or                                                                            conversation
b.) usually there isn’t much direct evidence in a case
2.) Circumstantial (requires inferences)
a.) things you could observe or infer from                                                                                   someone’s actions
b.) asking the jury to “find” or “infer” the element

3.) Inference v. Presumption
a.) Inference: Constitutional
1.) conclusion finder may draw
b.) Presumption: Unconstitutional     
1.) Violates Due Process (unfair)
2.) conclusion finder must draw
2.) Burden of Proof
a.) Burden of proving on any particular issue
b.) That party must bring sufficient evidence to show elements
c.) This is the ultimate burden that п usually has at the end
3.) Burden of Production
a.) Can apply to п or ∆ at the beginning of trial
b.) Must provide evidence on the elements so a R juror “could”
take your side
c.) Burden of bringing forward some evidence on each element of
the crime
d.) If п doesn’t show burden of production, then ∆ should move for
judgment of acquittal

C.) How are Statutes Drafted?
1.) AR + MR + Causation (if it’s a result crime) + Circumstances or                                   Result +Social Harm = Crime
a.) each element is a building block
b.) crime = to the social harm that the legislature is trying to                                                      prohibit and/or punish

D.) How to Attack to Criminal Law Problem:
1.) Identify the criminal statute and the building blocks (elements) w/I the                               statute.
2.) Is the statute a MPC or CL statute?
3.) Is the statute ambiguous? Constitutional?
4.) What is the social harm the legislature is trying to cure? Policy or                                        rationale?
5.) Are there facts to support each element?
6.) Should the case against the ∆ be dismissed?

E.) Statutory Construction & Interpretation
1.) Look for…
a.) intent or interests of the legislature
b.) elements of the statute
c.) “plain meaning” (e.g. Webster’s Dictionary)
d.) legislative history
e.) cases that interpret the term in its opinion
f.) definition section of the code
g.) policy of law

2.) Rule of Lenity

Common Law
Model Penal Code § 1.02(3)
1.) Rule of Lenity: when ambiguity in a
statute that can’t properly be decided
as to what definition is correct, the
definition most favorable to the ∆ must
be used
1.) Rule of Lenity: when ambiguity in a
statute that can’t properly be decided
as to what definition is correct, it must
be interpreted to further the general
purposes of the particular provision…

Note: MPC does not call this the Rule of
Lenity; it is just the comparable section of
the code

II.) Actus

                                               an intoxicated condition
a.) intoxicated condition – attendant circum.
b.) the actus reus does not occur until the actor                                                                         drives her car (the conduct) while intoxicated
c.) this is not a conduct element because the offense
doesn’t prohibit a person from becoming                                                                               intoxicated


Example: burglarizing a house at night
a.) at night – attendant circumstance
b.) makes more dangerous because people will
usually be in the home at this time

Example: having sexual intercourse with a female                                                                  and without her consent
a.) w/ a female and w/o consent – attendant circum.
b.) it’s not rape if is not w/ a female and if there is
consent
5.) Policy
a.) Practicality-if everyone is punished for omissions, then jails
will be filled
b.) Merely a Thought-shouldn’t punish someone just for a bad                                                   thought; not all people act based on their thoughts
c.) American Values-people want the most freedom w/ the least
amount of restriction

III.) Mens Rea (MR)à2nd building block
A.) Broad v. Elemental Approach
1.) Broadàrefers only to “evil intent” or “bad mind”
2.) Elementalàrefers to the MR as required by the elements of the crime
a.) we use the “elemental” definition
b.) must meet what the statute requires
3.) Is there an additional MR requirement?
a.) Yes, think of general and specific intent
b.) No, then MR specified relates solely to the acts that constitute                                            the criminal offense