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Criminal Law
Villanova University School of Law
Pether, Penelope J.

Criminal Law
Professor Pether
Spring 2009
I.                   INTRODUCTION
a.      Statutory à Criminal law in America predominantly statutory. Common law guides interpretation of statutes. 
                                                  i.      Interpretative methods:
1.      Policy
2.      Rule of Lenity à to construe a penal statute as favorably to the D as its language and the circumstances of its application may reasonably permit. 
3.      Rule of Fair Import à Reading a statute in accordance with its plain or common meaning.
4.      Common Law Precedent and Contemporary Science à urged by gov’t to read statute in accordance with development of medical science; “viable” argument.
                                                ii.      How do Courts Interpret Criminal Statutes – Techniques
1.      Historical/Contextual
2.      Textual
a.       Other provisions, MPC (prescription for the law, not a description of [restatement]) &c.
3.      Policy-Based/Prudential/Ethical
                                              iii.      Ways to Interpret a Statute
1.      Textualist/Formalism à is a relatively rigorous interpretation of law.
2.      Functionalist/Contextualist/Instrumentalism à seeks to discern purpose, intent or function of a statute and to apply it consistently with that function. 
b.      Reasonable Doubt
                                                  i.      Definition à Every element of a crime has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
                                                ii.      Substantive Impact of Burden of Proof à if the words used to define a crime are poorly chosen, it may be impossible to secure a conviction even when it appears D should be punished
                                              iii.      Proof of Knowledge à how does a prosecutor prove D “knew” something, and how does he supply evidence so convincing that he removes all reasonable doubts about knowledge?
1.      EX/  US v. Zandi à Whether Zandis possessed opium—did they have knowledge?
a.       Court à Mehdi’s behavior was indicative of constructive knowledge. First, the package was addressed with a false shipper. Ds paid for a carrier’s receipt—but when the Mehdi learned of a customs inspector waiting for him, he abruptly departed. Customs inspectors then checked the package
b.      Constructive possession à when the D exercises or has the power to exercise dominion or control over an item. This was proved beyond a reasonable doubt because the Zandis sent their uncle money in Pakistan to support the drug transaction, suspicious phone call about “gifts,” and the false exculpatory statement.
                                              iv.      Standard of Proof in Appellate Courtà Appellate judge must review the evidence in light most favorable to the government and then must affirm if any rational trier of fact could have found proof beyond a reasonable doubt. 
                                                v.      EX/ Keeler v. Superior Court à Whether an unborn but viable fetus is a “human being” within the meaning of the CA statute defining murder
1.      Court à It would be constructive to find this as murder, because the statute of murder does not explicitly include unborn feti
2.      Majority à Takes a formalist reading of the statute to avoid making new crime.
c.       Theories of Crime and Punishment (Policy)
                                                  i.      Four Theories
1.      Deterrence à “send a message”
a.       Utilitarianism à Use criminal law to send message to D and others that the costs of violating norms is greater than the benefits (utilitarian)
2.      Incapacitation à separate one from society by lengthy incarceration with intention to incapacitate one from future harm
3.      Rehabilitation à to temper some sanctions
4.      Retributive Justice à proportionality to wrongdoing
a.       Kantian Retributivism à Sanction behavior because the D deserves to be punished for violating society’s norms (retributive) and
                                                ii.      Other Methods of Punishment
1.      Reintegrative Approach to Juveniles
a.      Communities given power to take care of situations themselves
2.      Shaming
d.      Almost All Offenses Have Mens Rea and Actus Reus
                                                  i.      Mens Rea
1.      Most criminal statutes require mental fault on the part of D, or a criminal state of mind. Strict liability cases vanish this. Mens also referred to as a “criminally culpable state of mind.”
                                                ii.      Actus Reus
1.      Includes all physical elements, not just the act.
II.                HOMICIDE (go through the following as questions)
a.      First Degree Murder
                                                  i.      Requirements à Murder usually requires “malice aforethought”
1.      Express Maliceà intentional killings.
a.      First degree murder usually requires premeditation and deliberation (intent to kill).
                                                                                                                          i.      Brutality in and of itself does not establish premeditation
                                                                                                                        ii.      Some courts find brutality supports premeditation while others believe that it negates premeditation
                                                                                                                      iii.      Some courts treat every stab/shot after the first as premeditated by default. 
                                                ii.      Misnomer? à One does not necessarily have to act with malice or think about the act beforehand. Even some accidental killings have malice aforethought.
                                              iii.      The Pennsylvania Pattern à has a second degree of murder
                                              iv.      Examples
1.      Commonwealth v. Carroll à D contended that it would take longer than five minutes to generate deliberation and premeditation because he was of good character. Court rejects this argument and holds that premeditation can happen in an instance.
2.      People v. Anderson à Crazy boyfriend kills girlfriend’s adolescent daughter—stabbed her 60+ everywhere. Jury ruled second degree murder for no premeditation. Court lays out three factors in determining premeditation and deliberation. One usually needs a combination of the factors, but in cases where one factor is gross, courts will find premeditation and deliberation:
a.       Planning Activity
b.      Motive
c.       Method of Killing
3.      People v. Perez à Multiple stab wounds to pregnant woman dropped to second degree murder. S.Ct. overrules this
a.       Pl

). There is no line drawn for subjectivity
4.      Was there adequate time for passion to cool?
a.      There is no objective time limits on cooling off. 

                                                ii.      When Trial Judge Should Submit a VMS Instruction à Generally when any reasonable juror could conclude that the facts support the theory presented by the party requesting instruction. If evidence raises possibility of VMS, judge must charge jury with it
                                              iii.      Reasonable Person à Courts have a difficult time characterizing the reasonable person.
1.      Determining “Reasonable Provocation” for VMS
a.       Categorical Approachà Some jurisdictions designated categories of behavior (alone) which is sufficient to reduce murder to VMS:
                                                                                                                          i.      Discovering spouse in act of intercourse
                                                                                                                        ii.      Mutual combat
                                                                                                                      iii.      Assault and battery
                                                                                                                      iv.      Injury to D’s relative or third party
                                                                                                                        v.      Resisting an illegal arrest
b.      ***MPC’s The Person of Ordinary Temperament Standard
c.       Battered Spouse Syndrome
                                              iv.      Malice Aforethought? à The Penn Pattern reduces the grade to VMS for certain killings in the heat of passion. Some courts reason that malice aforethought is absent in such a case, because of the passion factor, while some treat the additional factor of passion as a kind of defense that coexists with malice but merely reduces the grade
                                                v.      Previous Provocation à Courts generally do not weigh this heavily in determining adequate cause. However, some do use it as a “last-straw” theory; EX/ Avery.
                                              vi.      Homosexual Panic Defense à Doesn’t really work with jury charge
                                            vii.      ***MPC à Only has one manslaughter provision that encapsulates both IVMS and VMS. Manslaughter is characterized as “extreme emotional distress.” This does not focus on single provocative acts—it is your state of mind rather than the actual act of another. Moreover, words can be enough and there is no cooling off stage.