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Criminal Law
Villanova University School of Law
Chanenson, Steven L.

Criminal Law
Fall 2014
Issue, Rule, & Application/Analysis **apply the rule to the facts that you have in front of you, and then Conclusion
I. Introduction:
A. Wrongfulness
1. Malum Ince: Morally/inherently wrong in itself
2. Malum Prohibtum: Wrong because it is against the law
B. Prosecutorial Discretion
      1. Key element of the criminal law
      2. Necessary evil?
      3. Must be objective, not subjective
C. Purposes of Punishment: don’t want people taking it into their own hands
      1. Retribution: focus on giving the victim justice
      2. Deterrence: deter criminals from committing the same crimes in the future
      3. Rehabilitation: fix them rather then just get justice
                  a. Speluncean Explorers Case
                  b. Dudley v. Regina
                              i. General: deterring criminal behavior
                              ii. Specific: a particular crime
II. Proportionality & Vagueness
A. Proportionality: the relationship between crime and punishment
1. 8th Amendment: can’t have cruel and unusual punishment (grossly disproportionate punishment)
2. Capital Cases – needs to be reserved for the worst of the worst
3.  Non-capital Cases
            a. Death it difference
            b. Must use discretion to consider an individual
            c. Different considerations for juveniles
B. Vagueness
      1. Due Process
      2. Two Components to Consider:
                  a. Notice
                              i. Extreme unfairness: regular people try to follow law but can’t figure it out
ii. If a person of ordinary intelligence cannot figure out what is or isn’t prohibited then there isn’t appropriate notice
                  b. Arbitrary and Discriminatory Enforcement
                              i. Too much opportunity for discretion
                              ii. Plaintiff must show inappropriate notice and enforcement
      3. Void for Vagueness Doctrine
                  a. The statute needs to be unconstitutionally vague in ALL applications
                  b. Nash v. United States – certainly knew what they were doing was wrong
                  c. Gray v. Kohl – example of the test of notice and enforcement
                  d. Chicago v. Morales – example
III. Defining Criminal Conduct
A. Largely based on statutes
B. Standard of proof: beyond a reasonable doubt (every element)
C. Elements:
1. Physical: Actus Reus
                        a. Strict Liability – only actus reus required, no mens rea (speeding)
                                    i. Easy to administer but can cause overreaching
                        b. 3 Elements
                                    i. Conduct that was done
                                    ii. Circumstance: factual conditions under which act was done
                                    iii. Result/Conseqeunce: what happened as a result of the act
2. Mental: Mens Rea (guilty mind)
D. Statutory Interpretation
1. Any combination of conduct and intent that violates a criminal statute as enforced by a prosecutor and interpreted by a court/jury (prosecutorial discretion)
      2. Voluntary Acts
                  a. Can be punished for acts that aren’t voluntary
      3. Causing of Harm
                  a. Causation and harm are not a big concern in criminal law
      4. Greater and Lesser Crimes
                  a. Severity of the act = severity of the punishment
b. You can opt for lesser or greater punishment depending on the ability to prosecute or defend each
c. When determining if act is assisted suicide or murder, the determining factor is whether role was passive or active
i. In Re Joseph G. (passive role)
ii. People v. Cleeves (active role)
            5. Interpretation in General
                        a. Start with text of statute
                        b. Legislative History (insight into what the legislature meant)
                        c. Legislative Framework (intent of the legislature)
i. Expressio unius, exclsuio alterius: items in a statutory list are presumed to be exclusive, any items not mentioned are presumed not to be included
ii. Ejusdem generis: general terms in statute should be interpreted in light of any specific terms included in the same list
iii. Specific

D was drunk) is not a defense
ii. D must argue that his or her drunkenness affected his or her mens rea in some relevant way
G. Mistake of Fact
            1. Specific intent – honest (belief)
2. General Intent – honest (belief) and reasonable
a. Making a false official statement is a specific intent crime. An honest mistake of fact regarding the truth of the statement is a defense (United States v. Oglivie)
b. If the mistake goes to an element requiring only general intent, the mistake must be both honest and reasonable. However, if the mistake goes to an element requiring specific intent, the mistake need only be honest, i.e., exist in the mind of the accused (United State v. Binegar)
H. Mistake of Law
      1. Ignorance of the law is generally not an excuse for breaking the law
      2. Much less friendly to the defendant than mistake of fact
                  a. Mistake has to be one of actual law, not of interpretation (People v. Marrero)
                  b. When reasonable belief in law is not actually rooted in law, then there is no valid                       mistake of law (Darab v. United States)
c. A defendant who acts under the subjective belief that he or she has a lawful claim on property lacks the required felonious intent to steal (State v. Varszegi)
I. Strict Liability
      1. Mens rea is not required to be guilty
2. Low-level crimes (traffic violations etc.) that generally have light sentences.
3. Regulatory requirements
a.       Strict liability offenses dispense with mens rea, meaning that the possession of a “guilty mind” is not essential to conviction. Such statutes do not require that the defendant know the facts that make his conduct fit the definition of the offense (State v. T.R.D.)