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Criminal Law
University of Toledo School of Law
Hamilton, Melissa

Theory
main theories of punishment:
– deterrence, incapacitation/incarceration, rehabilitation:
– should be swift, sure, and severe
– parsimony: punishment must fit the crime; over-the-top punishments fail to deter
– specific: punish and deter one person
– general: one person serves as an example
– vs. retribution:
– atonement: to restore the moral balance of society
– does not try to reduce crime
main principles in defining a crime:
– legality:
– need fair warning – “no crime without law”
– subject to void for vagueness:
– on its face, or as applied
– might fail to provide notice
– might authorize/encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement
– can focus on foreseeability of judicial decisions
– rule of lenity: resolves any ambiguity in favor of the ∆
– no ex post facto laws: can’t enforce retroactively, only prospectively
– statutory interpretation:
– plain meaning, statutory structure
– precedent (stare decisis)
– legislative history/intent
– social harm, avoiding absurdity
– culpability: see actus reus
– proportionality
elements of a crime:
– actus reus: bad act or conduct
– mens rea: guilty mind
– causation: actual and proximate
– attendant circumstances
– social harm

Actus Reus
– positive acts:
– must be voluntary
– impulse (brain) vs. intent (mind)
– habits are still voluntary
– impulse control issues are still voluntary
– coercion: still voluntary, but could be a defense
– status vs. conduct offenses:
– status: e.g., being a vagrant, an alcoholic, etc. – not usually OK
– conduct: sleeping on public sidewalks, etc.
– omissions:
– elements for omissions:
– legal duty (see below)
– voluntary omission
– sometimes, with knowledge of the facts and the risk of harm
– mens rea
– causation
– must have a legal duty that binds ∆
– sources of legal duties:
– statute:
– e.g., supervision of minors
– ≠ moral obligation
– CL misprision of a felony
– failure to report a felony, even where no duty otherwise
– not in effect everywhere, but yes in Ohio
– status relationship:
– clear re: spouses and children
– no duty child à parent
– inconsistent re: stepparents and dating relationships
– contractual:
– assumption of care via contract
– lifegu

nd of harm, foreseen by ∆ (Cunningham)
MPC mental states:
– purposely:
– ∆’s conscious object is to cause the result
– ∆ is aware of such circumstances or hopes they exist
– ∆’s conscious object is to engage in conduct of that nature
– knowingly:
– ∆ is aware that it is practically certain that his conduct will cause the result
– ∆ is aware that such circumstances exist
– ∆ is aware that his conduct is of that nature
– sometimes willful blindness
– recklessly:
– ∆ consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element will result from his conduct
– ∆ consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists
– negligently:
– ∆ should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element will result from his conduct
– ∆ should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists