Setting the Stage
How is criminal law different from other types of law?
a. Injures society
1. So do torts
b. Enforced by public officers
1. So are some civil issues
c. Is it the punishment
1. Can be civilly committed
d. A crime is different because of the expression of the community’s hatred, fear, or contempt for the convict
1. The condemnation with the punishment equals crime
2. Forever you are known as a convict
Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
a. Why do we require prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?
1. Helps to reduce factual error by using this standard
2. To help protect society from the power of the state, police power and judicial power
3. Use because defendants might face loss of liberty/convicts are stigmatized
b. Definition (but do we even need an instruction?)
1. Near certitude of guilt (not quantifiable by number)
c. Jury Instructions
1. Moral Certainty
2. Firmly Convinced
3. No Waiver or Vacillation
4. No Real Doubt: No mathematical certainty, a reasonable doubt is a real doubt based upon reason and common sense…
5. Thoroughly Convinced
Enforcing the Presumption of Innocence
a. Owens v. State
1. Facts: Owens passed out with a can of beer between his legs, he is intoxicated in his truck in some driveway with his vehicle on
2. Issue: Had Owens been driving: coming or going?
3. A/A: The court talked about whether or not it was his house. The judge is trying to say that he may just be leaving, but if he was at someone else’s house why would he bring the cans into the truck? Someone reported him driving erratically and parked in a driveway, so it couldn’t be his house.
a. Just because the evidence is circumstantial doesn’t mean that evidence is weak
b. Do we agree with the judge, would we have voted to convict?
c. The judge used the word “tiebreaker” in regard to the evidence, which alludes to preponderance of the evidence
Jury Nullification: A jury’s knowing and deliberate rejection of the evidence or refusal to apply the law either because the jury wants to send a message about some social issue that is larger than the case itself or because the result dictated by law is contrary to the jury’s sense of justice, morality, or fairness.
a. How can juries get away with nullification?
1. Jury is a representative of the community, so it can choose not to convict someone even if the prosecutor has proven each element beyond a reasonable doubt
2. No double jeopardy: once you’ve been acquitted you cannot be tried again for the same crime, that’s how juries get away with it
b. Why do juries nullify?
1. Sympathy for the defendant
2. Personal bias/Prejudice
3. Because they think this shouldn’t even be a crime
c. State v. Ragland
1. Issue: Whether the D is correct that he has a right to a jury instruction on jury nullification (Juries must be informed of their power to nullify) and the D says the word must conflicts with the jury’s power to nullify
2. Ruling: If you change to may from must you encourage juries to nullify, juries don’t need to know about their power
3. A/A: Jury nullification is not good and if we allow it the criminal justice system will be undermined b/c society will look skeptically at juries
Principles of Punishment: Principles of punishment help us address the questions of why we punish at all and how such punishment should be distributed to whom and in what amount
Two main theories of punishment
1. Utilitarian: Looks to deter crime
a. Utilitarian Justifications
i. The purpose of all laws is to augment the total happiness of the community: punishment shouldn’t be inflicted unless there is some benefit to punishing someone
ii. General deterrence: to deter everyone
iii. Individual deterrence: to deter one person who has already committed the crime
1. For both the pain must be greater than the benefit of committing the crime
2. For both the defendant must receive notice of the punishment
iv. Incapacitation: If a prisoner is dangerous it keeps them off the street
2. Retribution: Looks to punish because you committed a crime (the criminal chose to do wrong, and deserves punishment)
a. Look at the past action/choice
i. We punish defenders because they deserve it
ii. Negative retributivism
1. Gives us permission to punish
iii. Positive retributivism
1. You have to punish offenders
iv. Assaultive retribution
1. We hate criminals so we should punish them
v. It helps to put the criminal where he or she should be, we restore the status quo
Proportionality of Punishment: Constitutional Principles
8th Amend: Prohibits cruel and unusual punishment
Coker v. Georgia
a. Issue: Whether or not the death penalty is appropriate in rape of an adult under the 8th amendment
b. Statute: jury allowed to determine if there is an aggravating circumstance before the death penalty may be imposed
c. Aggravating circumstances: prior conviction for a capital felony, or rape while committing a capital felony
d. Rule: a punishment is excessive and unconstitutional if it makes no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment and is purposeless or is grossly out of proportion to the severity of the crime
e. Legislative reactions: at this point Georgia was the only state left that allowed the death penalty for the rape of an adult
f. Holding: Death is disproportionate for the crime of raping an adult woman
g. Reasoning: That rape does not take a life and the victim has a life and can go on, whereas a murder victim cannot. (looking at retribution, an eye for an eye, here he doesn’t deserve to die because he didn’t kill)
c. Ewing v. California
a. Issue: Does it violate the 8th amendment to sentence the D to 25 years to live pursuant to a three strikes law.
b. Facts: He stole 3 golf clubs at $400 each.
c. Justification for 3 strikes laws is that this person cannot be helped, so we incapacitate so they’re not out committing crimes
3. His theory is that an act while unconscious isn’t an act at all – no criminal liability. There must be some conscious thought when committing the act. He was saying that he was unconscious
4. Any exception? Yes, because he voluntarily consumed alcohol. If the unconsciousness is voluntarily induced then it isn’t a complete defense. The jury should be given a cautionary instruction. Automatism could’ve been ok if he wasn’t drunk
5. Why doesn’t the court allow the defense?
a. Because he didn’t give enough evidence about automatism
a. Why would a D want acquittal based on lack of a voluntary act rather than because of insanity, So he won’t be committed
b. It’s a burden of proof issue, because it’s the prosecutor’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and if you use an affirmative defense some of that burden is placed on you
c. There can be different meanings of voluntary
d. Possession: Becomes voluntary if you find out about it and don’t do anything to get rid of the drugs
Omissions: You haven’t done a voluntary act, but you are liable because of your omission. Only guilty if you have a legal duty to act.
a. People v. Beardsley
1. Facts: Woman died after taking morphine pills. Did he do anything to cause her death? No
2. SO, is he liable for failing to prevent her death?
a. Moral obligation: yes
b. Legal obligation: Here the status of relationship is applied. The court says there is no status relationship because she’s done this before, she brought it on herself, there’s no relationship
b. Should there be a duty to help/act someone who is in danger (with no danger to yourself)?
1. Is there a line drawing issue?
a. How many people do you charge?
b. Do these people have an excuse?
2. What are the intent of the bystanders?
a. If you allow someone to drown, does it mean that you want the person to die? Not necessarily
b. Bystanders can make it worse by moving someone
3. Individual liberty and freedom
a. We would be saying you have to do something
b. There’s generally no obligation to report a crime, but you just cant conceal the fact that a crime has occurred
5 ways one can be criminally liable for omissions
a. Statute imposes a duty (many states have a law that requires medical providers & others to report suspected child abuse)
b. Certain status relationship with another (parent must provide food, shelter, and clothing to child)
c. Assumed contractual duty of care for another (nursing homes often enter into a contract to provide medical services to residents)
d. One has voluntarily assumed the care of another and so secluded the helpless person as to prevent others from rendering aid (taking sick person into one’s home)
e. Person creates a risk of harm to another (pushing someone who cant swim into the water)
1. (duty to control the conduct of another) (respondeat superior)
2. (duty of a landowner)
a. These two not given in class