Select Page

Criminal Law
Villanova University School of Law
Brennan, Patrick McKinley

Common Law
Model Penal Code
Purposes of law
– retribution, deterrence, 
– MPC has no retribution
– MPC abandons most common law terms, because these terms are considered to be murky
Rule of Lenity
Criminal statute is to be construed in favor of the D and against the state where there are ambiguities
– criminal statutes must be “strictly construed” against the prosecution
– At common law, there is no default rule to decide the elements of the offense.- Look at larceny example: Have to have culpability in relation to each element of the crime.
– start w/ recklessness and work up to knowingly and purposely
1.02(3) – language should be interpreted to further general purposes stated in this Section and the special purposes of the particular provision involved. The discretionary powers conferred by the Code shall be exercised in accordance with the criteria stated in the Code and, insofar as such criteria are not decisive, to further the general purposes stated in this Section. 
a.       1.13(9)- “elements of an offense”
b.      1.13(10)- “material”
1.02(1) and 1.02(2) and special purposes particular to provision involved:
1.02(1): The general purposes of the provisions governing the definition of offenses are:
(a) to forbid and prevent conduct that unjustifiably and inexcusably inflicts or threatens substantial harm to individual or public interests;(b) to subject to public control persons whose conduct indicates that they are disposed to commit crimes;(c) to safeguard conduct that is without fault from condemnation as criminal;(d) to give fair warning of the nature of the conduct declared to constitute an offense;(e) to differentiate on reasonable grounds between serious and minor offenses.1.02 (2) The general purposes of the provisions governing the sentencing and treatment of offenders are: (a) to prevent the commission of offenses;(b) to promote the correction and rehabilitation of offenders;(c) to safeguard offenders against excessive, disproportionate or arb

y act (actus reus) can be analyzed by looking at situation in which actus reus WAS NOT met:
–          1. thoughts, words, states of possession, and status
–          2. involuntary acts (e.g. sleep-walking)
–          3. Omissions
Conduct involving a voluntary Act
– Common law and MPC are in accordance on the point of somnambulism/result in Cogdon is the same under MPC and c.l.
– Both concerned w/ the conscious mind.
1.       2.01(1)- need for a voluntary act to be guilty of an offense
2.       2.01(2)- following are not voluntary acts:
a.       Reflex or convulsion
b.      Bodily movement during unconsciousness or sleep
c.       Conduct during/ resulting from hypnosis
d.      Bodily movement that is not otherwise a product of effort or determination of actor
3.       2.01(4)- Possession is an act