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Criminal Law
University of Toledo School of Law
Porter, Nicole Buonocore

 

Setting the stage:
prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt

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).
the two main theories of punishment
Utilitarial Justifications: (or consequentialists) believe that the purpose of all laws is to augment the total happiness of the community. What are the beneficial consequences of punishment? General deterrence, individual deterrence, incapacitation, and reform.
Retributive Justifications: Retributivism is all the rage. Why? Negative or positive retributivism (because they deserve it). Assaultive retribution (morally right to hate criminals and should punish because of our hatred) Retrubutive punishment is the defeat of the wrongdoer at the hands of the victim that symbolized the correct relative value of wrongdoer and victim.
Proportionality of Punishment
Eight amendment of the United States Const. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment”

Rule: a punishment is excessive and unconstitutional if it:
Makes no measureable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment and….
Court’s Holding: death is disproportionate penalty for the crime of raping an adult woman.


Legislature/Court Relationship
Three doctrines:
Principle of legality prohibits judicial crime creation.
Void for vagueness forbids wholesale legislative delegation of lawmaking authority to the courts.
Rule of strict construction says that judicial interpretation of unclear statutes should be biased in favor of the accused.

Should the court expand the definition of human being to account for progress in medicine?
It is not the job of the court to rewrite laws.
Actus Reus Defined:
What is actus reus?
Physical part of the crime.
Elements:
Conduct (voluntary act)
Causation
harmful result

voluntary act
MPC definitions:
1.13(2) act means a bodily movement whether voluntary or involuntary
1.13(3) sends us to 2.01
authorities are split as to whether automatism and insanity are separate defenses or whether automatism is going to be seen as a subspecies of insanity.


Possession
2.01(4) Possession is an act, within the meaning of this section, if the possessor knowingly procured or received te thing possessed or was aware of his control thereof for a sufficient period to have been able to terminate his possession.

Omissions
Five ways one can be criminally liable for omissions:
Statute imposes a duty
certain status relationship with another.
assumed a contractual duty of care for another
one has voluntarily assumed the care of another and so secluded the helpless person as to prevent others form rendering aid.
person creates a risk of harm to another.


Social Harm
oDefining social harm in result crimes vs. conduct crimes.
oOne definition: social harm is the “negation, endangering, or destruction of an individual, group, or state interest, which is deemed socially valuable.” Does drunk driving cause a social harm under this definition?
oAttendant circumstances: a condition that must be present, in conjunction with the prohibite

the actus reus (possession with intent to sell).
•Proof of a special motive or purpose for committing the actus reus (offensive contact upon another with the intent to cause humiliation)
•Proof of actor’s awareness of an attendant circumstance (intent to sell obscene literature to a person known to be under the age of 18).

Model Penal Code Approach to Mens Rea
Section 2.02
•Each material element of offense has to be proven with some specified mental state. Material elements such as: 1) nature of forbidden conduct; 2) attendant circumstances; 3) result of conduct.
•Four mental states: Purposely, knowingly, recklessly, negligently.

Purposely
•A person acts purposely with respect to a material element of an offense when:
•If the element involves the nature of his conduct or a result thereof, it is his conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a result; and
•If the element involves the attendant circumstances, he is aware of the existence of such circumstances or he believes or hopes that they exist.

Knowingly
(b) A person acts knowingly with respect to a material element of an offense when:
(i) if the element involves the nature of his conduct or the attendant circumstances, he is aware that his conduct is of that nature or that such circumstances exist