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Criminal Law
Villanova University School of Law
Ouziel, Lauren M.

Criminal Law Outline
Professor Ouziel
Fall 2013
Character of Criminal Law
Burden of Proof is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
Large gap between criminal law as it is written and as it is enforced.
While Tort law draws the line between good and bad conduct, criminal law distinguishes bad from worse.
Retribution: Moral Repayment
Deterrence: Economic, mold behavior
Rehabilitation: Psychiatric, fix criminal
A judge can declare a defendant innocent in the jury finds him guilty.
Constitution Limits on Crimes
Proportionality- relates to cruel and unusual punishment. Outside of the death penalty, the 8th amendment does not require strict proportionality between crime and sentence.
Void for Vagueness- Requires that crimes be defined with enough precision to inform potential offenders about how to avoid criminal punishment
The likelihood (certainty) of punishment affects the level of deterrence much more than the amount (severity) of punishment.
Nash- The defendant was aware that his conduct might lead to him getting into trouble.
Gary v. Kohl- The term “legitimate business” was never clearly defined in the subsection of the law, which meant it failed to provide the kind of notice that will enable ordinary people to understand what conduct it prohibits.
Defining Criminal Conduct
Conventional definition of a crime- “crime” is a voluntary, affirmative act that causes harm, done with culpable intent that coincides with the act, and defined by a statute to be a “crime”.
Better definition of crime—A crime is any combination of conduct and intent that violates a criminal statute as enforced by a prosecutor and interpreted by a court.
Malum in Se- bad standing on its own
Malum Prohibitum- bad simply because it is prohibited
Criminal Act
1.      Act
2.      Voluntariness
a.       Act does not have to be voluntary, because acts of omission are criminalized also.
3.      Causation/ harm
a.       The majority of criminal statutes do not require proof that the defendant caused anything—instead, criminal statutes usually require proof of specified conduct and of a particular mental state.
4.      Specificity
a.       Vagueness (strike statute) (favor def.)
b.      Lenity (narrow statute) (favor def.)
5.      Mens Rea
Interpreting Conduct Terms in Criminal Statutes
Criminal conduct is defined by criminal statutes.
The measure of punishment depends primarily on the seriousness of the crime(s) the defendant committed, as determined by the legislature that enacted the relevant criminal statutes.
In re Joseph G- The case represented a genuine suicide pact because the potential for fraud was absent and there was a joint interest in driving off the cliff. The defendant was the one driving, it just so happened that he did not die.
People v. Cleaves- Cleaves did not merely furnish the means of the suicide, but he also participated in the death of the victim.
Both of these cases involved statutory interpretation in order to determine the intent of the legislature that enacted the statute. The “assisting suicide” statute had to be interpreted in light of another statute prohibiting murder.
The Rule of Lenity
Ambiguities in criminal statutes are to be resolved in the defendant’s favor.
Brogan- The plain language of the statute admits no exception for an “exculpatory no” (denial of wrongdoing).
Wells- the statute in Wells did not include the word “material”, so the court held that proof that proof of materiality is not required.
Lutters- The court ruled that the statute unambiguously favored the prosecution, and disagreed that his “place of business” was his taxi. Dissent argued that since it would have been easy for the legislature to use more precise language, then the language that they did use should be viewed as ambiguous.
Where the statute is clear, the rule of lenity does not apply
Defining Criminal Intent
Criminal Intent= Mens Rea
Common Law intent consists of General and Specific Intent.
Model Penal Code: Purposefully, Knowingly, Recklessly, and Negligently
Common Law Culpability Standards
Common-law courts require different forms of intent in different criminal cases
General Intent
General Intent is the standard which applies to most crimes—it is simply having the intent to do the act.
Easier for the government to prove, harder for the defendant to get off.
Sparks- admitted to committing the act of wrongful diversion. The court was not required to show that he had the intent to do a further act or to achieve a future consequence, such as not paying the money back.
General intent only focuses on the Conduct element of a crime (Conduct, Circumstances, and Result).
People v. Sargent-
Ex pos facto- a crime cannot be charged from statute effected after act was committed.
Defined as a General Intent crime, only needed to show that the defendant willfully inflicted unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on the baby.
People v. Fennell- had the intent to throw the firework and the intent to scare the horses, did not need to have the intent to burn the barn down because it was a general intent crime.
Specific Intent
Specific Intent means to not only have the intent to commit the act, but to also intend for the result to occur.
That the defendant not only intended to do that act he did but also intended to bring about some o

fenses are usually public welfare offenses.
State v. Loge- The driver was responsible for ensuring that there were no open containers in the car, which means that no intent is required to have them in the car. Loge had an affirmative duty to ensure that there were no open containers in the area of a motor vehicle normally occupied by the driver or passenger on a public highway.
State v. TRD- Requiring sex offenders to register is a public welfare offense, and it does not require that the offender have knowledge that he was obliged to verify his address, meaning that that the possession of a “guilty mind” is not essential to conviction.
Making failing to register a strict liability offense, strikes a careful balance between the defendant’s due process rights and the community’s interest in protecting its most vulnerable citizens from truly terrible crimes.
The Model Penal Code Culpability Structure
Written to make new law; written in hopes that states would adopt, but it never happened.
General Requirements: Not guilty unless a person acts purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently as law may require, with respect to each material element of an offense.
Multiple mental states.
No Specificity in statute= default= recklessness.
No strict liability under the model penal code because mens rea is required for all levels of culpability
There only is strict liability for public welfare offenses where there are fines as sanctions.
·         Conscious object to cause the result- specific intent
·         Conscious object to do action- general intent
·         Desire, want it to happen
·         Attendant circumstances (aware that they exist)
·         Aware conduct is of a certain nature
·         Aware conduct will cause a certain result
·         No element of desire
·         Probability (practically certain)
Recklessly—(Same as criminal negligence in common law)
·         Conscious disregard
·         Gross deviation, from standard law-abiding conduct
·         Should be aware, and failure to perceive risk.
·         “reasonable person”