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

          Crim Law is made largely on a Statutory Basis
            Can use common law as an interpretive basis
            Keeler v. Superior Court: Man kicks wife and causes her to miscarry
                        – Fetus Not Human Being for purposes of Homicide Statute
                        – Majority-Leg. Intent did not mean to go that far, narrow reading of stat
                        – Dissent says common law=quickened fetus a human being, broad
                        – Different interpretations
            Two types of crime elements
                        – Mens Rea: Mental State, wrongful mind
                        – Actus Reus: Physical Act, all physical elements not just act itself
            Requires Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
            United States v. Zandi: Communication with brother, drugs sent to warehouse
                        – Constructive Possession because slip of paper is key to unlock door
                        – Circumstantial Evidence=knowledge that package had opium
                        – Review of evidence does not re-weigh BRD
                        – Instead it is “whether a rational trier of fact could have found each                                      elements PBRD”
                        – Burden is higher in crim law because more serious punishments
                  Utilitarian: using the law to serve society’s interests, cost greater than benefits
                        Deterrence: Persuade others to avoid this conduct “send a message”
                        Incapacitation: Protect society from person who not likely to change        
                        Rehabilitation: Hope to change person’s ways
                  Kantian: Rather than usefulness, considers moral blameworthiness
                        Retributive Justice: Punish because criminal deserves it for violating                                                                   social norms
                        – Reconciliation of these issues can be a problem because they are at odds
                        United States v. Blarek: Convicted of money laundering for a drug lord
                                    – Guidelines for sentencing, but judges also allowed to depart when                                                   discretion says punishment would be better served otherwise
                                    – Consider the crime, those who committed act etc. to determine
                        Harm: To prevent harm to those other than the actor, but what about                                             “victimless crimes”?
                        Morality: The inherent wrongness of the act, no matter who harmed. But                                         revulsion of an act does not make it a crime
                        Symbolism: Criminalize conduct that facilitates harm even if indirect, but                                        the more we step away from directness of harm we move                                                            away from criminalization
                        Legality: Must use English words to describe prohibited act so it can be                                           recognized, butt can lead to vague, overbroad or even too                                         narrow constructions
          Must be specific in order to understand what is criminalized
            Lists elements of the offense to reach that specificity
            Selection of each element a policy decision and poor definition can cause problems
            Burden of Proof
                        – Must prove every element in the statute BRD
                        – Omission of one can lead to acquittal ex. “what is a building”
                        – Defense attempts to attack the weakest ones to prove
                        – Knowledge is not proof-5th Amendment
            Five Elements
                        Actus Reus: Physical Acts
                                    – What D must do in order for it to be a crime ex “kill”
                                    – Must be Voluntary or if there is a legal duty an Omission
                                                            – State v. Sowry: Asked whether had drugs, said no
                                                            – Wasn’t a crime until took him into facility, against                                                                 his control-Not a voluntary act
                                                            – Didn’t have to say yes, 5th Amendment
                                    – Good Samaritan Acts only in some jurisdictions
                                    – Common law creates duty when voluntarily assumed, relations,                                            contractual, or statutorial
                                                            – State v. Miranda: Infant child abused by mother
                                                            – Boyfriend voluntarily assumed care of child, would                                                              have noticed abuse, created legal duty to protect
                                    – Involuntary movements MPC lists: sleepwalking, hypnosis not                                             criminal          
                                    – Threat of act is not enough to constitute the crime
                        Circumstances: Many crimes occur in a specifically described situation
                        Harm/Result: Requires a specific harm or result to occur before statute                                                      applies, sometimes even threat of harm
                        Causation:  Also requires that D causes the harm
                                    – Not every element is always present, blurs ex. “obstructs a                                                    sidewalk” is the act and the harm
                                    – Can rely on Direct Evidence: no inferences required, or                                                        Circumstantial Evidence: inferences must be drawn
                                    – MPC uses but-for approach vs. common law also adds proximate                                        cause approach
                        Posession: Based on knowledge, not really an act
                                    – United States v. Zandi: Convicted of constructive possession
                                                – Had to know package contained opium-how much                                                                            certainty though?
                        Status: Constitution places limits on act, cannot be a crime to be                                                      something
                                                – Robinson v. California: Admitted to using narcotics
                                                            – Cannot be charged with being addicted to drugs
                                                            – Would not punish for having illness-addiction=ill
                                                – Pow

y intended                                                 by D
                                                – Sometimes more serious if certain status (officer)
                                    Avoidance (Willful Blindness): Liable if ignorance is only a result                                                 of a conscious effort to disregard the truth when faced with the                                          nature of the circumstances
                                                – United States v. Sanchez-Robles: Borrowed van                                                                            – Odor so strong, how could she not know
                                                            – Even it highly suspicious instructions only available                                                                         when D deliberately avoided the truth, not that she                                                                          didn’t know
                                                – Another issue is whether one possesses a belief that there                                                      are drugs, but not the seriousness of the drug
            Strict Liability: Does not require proof on mens rea element
                        – Even if statutes are silent, there is a mental culpability inherent in the crim
                        – People v. Hoskay: Indecent exposure in public place
                                    – Do not need to know one is in public place
                                    – Just the voluntary act itself is enough to create liability
Burden of Proof
          – Most courts refuse to define
            – How many guilty people should be released to save on innocent?
            – What about erroneous convictions?
            Types of Evidence
                        – Circumstantial
                                    – Stogsdill v. State: Man convicted on circumstantial evidence
                                                – Can be sustained only if the circumstances exclude every                                                      other reasonable hypothesis except that of the guilt of the                                                                accused
                                                – But not necessary that every fact point directly, warranted                                                               by combined and cumulative force of circumstances
                        – Scientific
                                    – Expensive, and can have low probability or lab error
                        – Eyewitness
                                    – Essential to prove some cases but huge error margin
                                    – United States v. Smithers: Eye-witnesses pointed out: convicted