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Criminal Law
Villanova University School of Law
Brennan, Patrick McKinley

II. Actus Reus
A voluntary act or failure to perform a voluntary act that one has a legal duty + that causes (causation elements) + a Social harm
Example: homicideà”if he purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently causes the death of another human being.” CAUSES THE DEATH= actus reaus
Voluntary Element
Broad meaning: that the defendant possessed sufficient free will to be blamed for her conduct. If the act was due to coercion or mental illness the actor does not deserve to be punished for her actions.
Narrow Meaning: a movement of the body which follows our volition, a willed contraction of a muscle. Thus practically all human acts are voluntary.
-Utilitarians do not favor voluntary act requirement
-retributivists favor this requirement
Martin v. State
-police came arrested Martin drunk from his house and took to highway
-convicted for being drunk on highway
-on appeal, conviction set aside
-Martin’s act of being on highway not voluntary
State v. Utter
-son fatally stabbed by father
-father voluntary got drunk
-unconscious at time of stabbing
-father voluntarily got drunk
Omission (Negative Acts)
5 cases where omission can be punished under law
1. Statute imposes duty
2. One stands in a certain status relationship to another
3. One has assumed a contractual duty to care for another
4. One has voluntarily assumed the care of another so secluded the helpless person as to prevent others from rendering aid.
5. Duty by risk creation- D’s action placed V in the condition
People v. Beardsley
-man and lover got drunk. Lover passed out and placed in basement where she dies.
-man convicted for manslaughter
-appeal- conviction set aside
-court said no legal duty towards woman
Argument against Ct’s rulingà one can argue that the man took the woman to the basement and prevented others from helping her
Sometimes it is hard to tell if act is an affirmative act or omission
Barber v. Superior Court
-cessation of life support is not an affirmative act but rather withdraw or omission of further treatment.
-Proportionality test used by the court
v      II. Mens Rea
o        Broad meaning: a general immorality of motive, vicious will, evil meaning mind.
o        Narrow [elemental] meaning: the particular mental state provided for in the definition of an offense.
o        Intent

nt (CL)
§         General Intent
·         A crime for which only mens rea required is a blameworthy state of mind. A crime where D only desired to commit the act which served as the actus reus.
·         Example
o        Battery: only need intent to make harmful or offensive contact (actus reus).
§         Specific Intent
·         D, in addition to actus reus, desired to do something further.
o        Example
§         Burglary: Breaking and entering [actus reus] dwelling place of another at nighttime [attendant circumstance] with the intent to commit felony therein [mens rea].
·         D had a special motive to commit the actus rea
o        Larceny: carrying away personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive
·         D was aware of a particular attendant circumstance
o        Receiving property with the knowledge that it is stolen.
o        MPC 2.02[1][1] Differences between CL and MPC