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Criminal Law
University of Toledo School of Law
Kennedy, Robin M.

Professor Kennedy * SPRING 2005



MPC §1.13(9) – elements of an offense: 1) conduct 2) attendant circumstances 3) result.
Each element has a mental state connected to it.

Intent – Intent without an OVERT ACT cannot constitute a crime. (Proctor v. State)

Omission – MPC § 2.01(3) – Only a crime in certain cases
1.      When a statute imposes a duty of 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 care of another and so secluded the helpless person as to prevent others from rendering aid

Possession – MPC § 2.01(4) – If possessor knowingly procured or received the thing possessed [actual possession] or was aware of his control thereof for a sufficient period of time to have been able to terminate his possession [constructive possession].

Voluntariness – MPC § 2.01(1) – A requirement for a crime
A person is not guilty of an offense unless his liability is based on conduct which includes a voluntary act or the omission to perform an act of which he is physically capable.

Exceptions – MPC §2.01(2) – (a) Reflex/convulsion; (b) bodily movement during unconsciousness/sleep; (c) hypnosis/hypnotic suggestion; (d) bodily movement otherwise not a product of the effort or determination of the actor, either conscious or habitual.

Status Crimes – A state of being (drug addict/homelessness) cannot be a crime.

Specificity – A statute is too vague if: (1) it fails to provide notice that will enable ordinary people to understand what conduct it permits, or (2) it authorizes arbitrary/discriminatory enforcement.

II.               STATE OF MIND—MENS REA

Mens Rea: State of mind – requires 1) desire to harm others or violate some other social duty or 2) disregard for the welfare of others or for some other social duty.

MPC § 2.02(2) – Kinds of Culpability (See Awesome Chart p. 193!)
1.      Purposefully – Conscious object to engage in conduct of the nature and if element involves attending circumstance, an awareness of the existence of such circumstances (you want the thing that the law prohibits you from doing)
2.      Knowingly – Aware that that his conduct is of that nature or that attending circumstances exist and awareness that it is practically certain that his conduct will cause such a result
3.      Recklessly – Consciously disregards a risk that the material elements exist or will result from his conduct (must be conscious of the risk to be reckless)
4.      Negligently – Should be aware of risk that the material element exists or will result from the conduct (doesn’t need to prove that D was aware of the risk – reasonable person standard)

MPC § 2.04 – Ignorance or Mistake Affirmative Defenses
1.      Mistakes which negate the mental element (mistake of fact or law)
a.       Mistake of Fact – If defendant proves that because of a mistake of fact he didn’t possess the requisite mens rea, then he is not guilty.
b.      Mistake of Law – Mistake of law is not a reason to excuse the defendant from responsibility for the offense.

Omission & Knowledge – An actor cannot be liable for a crime of Omission of an act unless there is proof of Knowledge that the omission was criminal. (Lambert v. CA – Ex Con registry case)

MPC § 2.02(4) – Prescribed Culpability Requirement Applies to All Materials Elements – If the statute doesn’t attach specific states of mind to each element of the offense, then the one state of mind referred to applies to all elements. 

Strict Liability – Liability without moral fault
1.      Pure Strict Liability – Liability without any culpable mental state with respect to any objective element.
2.      Impure Strict Liability – Liability without any culpable mental state with respect to at least one such element (only has state of mind regarding at least one of the elements).
3.      The Key element in a Felony cannot be Strict Liability.

MPC § 2.02(3) – Culpability Required Unless Otherwise Provided – When the culpability sufficient to establish a material element of an offense is not prescribed by law

laughter – Criminal homicide is manslaughter when:
(a)    Involuntary – it is committed recklessly; or
(b)   Voluntary – a homicide which would otherwise be murder is committed under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse. The reasonableness of such explanation or excuse shall be determined from the viewpoint of a person in the actor’s situation under the circumstances as he believes them to be.

Heat of passion is such an explanation. However, a brief pause between provocation and homicide may be sufficient to negate heat of passion. Provocation is an important issue that should be argued back and forth in the exam.

MPC § 210.4 – Negligent Homicide – Criminal homicide constitutes negligent homicide when it is committed negligently.   Negligence involves complete ignorance of the risk posed.
·         Awareness of risk is not required, (Welansky – Night club owner and fire case)
·         Doesn’t need to prove that D was aware of the risk – reasonable person standard

Analyzing EED (Extreme Emotional Disturbance) – Many different factors (cultural [Wu – Ma kills boy], racial, gender, class, duration/intensity of provocation [Israeli Chick Case – Typical chick behavior, guys kill her], etc.) can be discussed in regards to “reasonableness of explanation”. That doesn’t mean it will prevail, but it can be discussed.

Factors to consider when determining whether there was premeditation and deliberation:
1.      Earlier hostility between the parties
2.      Self interested motive
3.      Manner and circumstances of the killing
4.      Accused’s behavior before the killing
5.      Origin of the murder weapon.