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

Ch. 1

Keeler v. Superior Court [D beat Mrs. Keeler in order to stomp out the baby] p.3
1. [Rule of lenity] it is the policy of this state to construe a penal statute as favorably to the defendant as its language and the circumstances of its application may reasonably permit
2. Majority approach: formalist. It extracted the elements set forth in the statute and compared the facts to those elements in a relatively rigorous manner.
3. Courts cannot create an offense by enlarging a statute, by inserting or deleting words, or by giving the terms used false or unusual meaning
4. Fair warning is essential to due process
5. Terms of a penal statute creating a new offense must be sufficiently explicit to inform those who are subject to it, that conduct on their part will render them liable to its penalties
6. When a new statute is applied retrospectively to make punishable an act that wasn’t punishable at the time, D has not been given due process-ex post facto laws.
7. Dissent = [fair import] all its provisions are to be construed according to the fair import of their terms, with a view to effect is objects and to promote justice. Statute says “human being,” not one who is born alive.” Can D really claim surprise that a 5-lb, 18-in, 34 wk-old living child is considered a human being?
8. The majority ignore significant common law precedents, frustrate the express intent of the legislature, and defy reason, logic and common sense

Rule of lenity –(+)

Fair import- (-)

· It is the policy to construe a penal statute as favorable to the defendant as its language and the circumstances of its application may reasonably permit

· Reading a statute in accordance with its plain or common meaning
· Interpret crime definitions according to the fair import of their terms, with a view to effect their objects and promote justice
· AKA instrumentalism or functionalism

United States v. Zandi [Zandi [went to pick up a package sent by his brother in Pakistan and it was inspected and drugs were found] p. 10
1. [dealing with actus reus] the appellants had constructive possession of the drugs because they possessed the shipping document which authorized the holder thereof to gain receipt of the goods
2. D’s sought reversals of their convictions for possession of opium with intent to distribute bc the government failed to prove that they possessed the opium and that they had knowledge that opium was concealed within a package labeled “gift cloth.” Mens rea element not proven?
3. [w/in case] United States v. Martorana = FBI seized the van before defendant took possession of it. Court stated that he acquired constructive possession of the drugs in the van when he acquired actual possession of the key to the van and to the padlock.
4. Knowledge was proved circumstantially [Pakistan, money sent, mysterious telephone calls, exculpatory statements]

NOTE: Jury must decide D’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, in an appellate court, the judge must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the government and must affirm whether any rational trier of fact could have found proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are four general reasons for punishment: p. 21

Utilitarian theory→forward looking, to reduce crime in the future.
1. General deterrence-punish a D in order to deter others from committing a crime.
Specific deterrence-punish D to discourage him from committing crimes in the future-teach them a
2. Incapacitation-lock somebody up to prevent them from committing further crimes, physically stop them.
3. Rehabilitation-treat D, teach him so that he will no longer commit crimes in the future

Kantian/Retributive theory→punish someone because they deserve it.
1. Determined by harm and culpability.
2. Harm-what were the results of the bad conduct? Was there a bad result? Greater the harm, greater the
3.Culpability-choices! What decision did D make? Did he make a bad decision? Purposeful over
accidental. Foolish over unexpected.
4.“Just deserts.”

United States v. Blarek, p. 22 [D’s convicted by jury of conspiracy to commit racketeering and money laundering, based on their laundering for Columbian drug kingpin].

Judge used “by-the-numbers Guideline Sentence” along with four core considerations above.

Ch. 2

Malice aforethoughtcomes from the traditional definition of murder.

Pennsylvania Pattern

Model Penal Code

State Pattern Influence by MPC

· First degree murder [malice aforethought, and deliberate, premeditated killing] · Second degree murder [malice aforethought only] · Voluntary manslaughter [passion killing] · Involuntary manslaughter [misdemeanor-manslaughter or gross negligence] · Vehicular manslaughter [grossly negligent unlawful driving, intoxication, etc.]

· Abandons ancient formulas (malice aforethought and premeditation-deliberation)
· Murder [causing death intentionally or knowingly-or with recklessness and extreme indifference] · Manslaughter [which includes what would be both involuntary and involuntary manslaughter] · Negligent homicide

· Murder [only one degree , but three ways to commit it: intentional or knowing killings, killing with intent to cause serious bodily injury, and felony murder] · Murder with sentence-range reduction [passion killing, akin to voluntary manslaughter but not a separate offense] · Involuntary manslaughter [reckless killing] · criminally negligent homicide (gross negligence)]

[Common law homicide crimes] Murder is causing death of another person with malice aforethought.
Inferred malice: intent to cause serious injury, even if intention was not to kill.

There are two ways to figure out mental state:
1. From D’s conduct (if ambiguous, talk about both and words from D’s mouth).
2. Transferred intent-intend to kill A but miss and kill B. Take the intent for A and transfer to B. Intend to kill A but injure B, not attempted murder. Don’t transfer intent in an attempt situation, must be a completed crime.

[Pennsylvania Pattern] p. 35


Malice aforethought-ONLY in PA pattern and is a misnomer/term of art because it does not actually require malice aforethought. States often try to define it in their statutes.
Expressàwhen there is manifested a deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a fellow creature. Intentional.
Impliedàwhen no considerable provocation appears, or when the circumstances attending the killing how an abandoned and malignant heart. So malice aforethought can be found in unintended killings too [depraved heart malice, assault with intent to cause serious bodily injury, resisting unlawful arrest in such a way to kill arresting officer-even
unintentionally, felony murder].

Malice can be implied if the D unintentionally killed the victim but acted with a “depraved heart,” second-degree murder.
If D’s recklessness is so substantial that it exhibits an extreme indifference to human life, then it may qualify as depraved heart murder in the second-degree.

Commonwealth v. Malone [Russian Roulette, D sug

ning activity=did not park car in driveway, [2] motive=reasonable to infer D thought it was necessary to kill victim, [3] manner of killing=D went into kitchen to find another knife after steak knife broke, similar to reloading a gun.
· We are not permitted to reverse the judgment if the circumstances reasonably justify those found by the jury

People v. Conley[Suggested charge to a jury in a CA homicide case] p.49
Not everyone has a grasp on homicide levels/criminal law system. Inconsistent instructions are problematic, confusing and dense.

Even if malice aforethought is present (because the killing is intentional), the PA pattern reduces the grade to voluntary manslaughter for certain killings upon heat of passion.
If there is evidence from which a juror could reasonably infer voluntary manslaughter, the judge must submit it, even if the judge thinks it is improbable.

Factors that determine if a killing is murder or passion killing:
1. Adequate cause, or reasonable provocation: sudden quarrels or heat of passion are factors here.
2. Severity of passion: Reasonable person test is used here. Severity of mental disturbance must be such that it would interfere with cool reflection. Would a reasonable person’s ability to reflect coolly been sufficiently reduced?
3. Timing: Must be committed on the spot!
4. The Victim: Some courts require that victim be involved with creating the passion.
5. What entitled D to receive v.m. jury instruction at the trial level?
§ He assaulted her – grabbed her breast and put his hand over her mouth causing her to not be able to breathe.
§ He had been drinking and doing drugs.
§ She had been gang raped at night previously and was scared.
§ Threatened to beat her and grabbed the gun.
6. A person commits manslaughter if he/she causes the death of another person under circumstances that would constitute murder in the second degree…EXCEPT THAT she caused the death under the influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause.
7. S.Ct. stated D could not meet this standard because all the events she used to support her voluntary manslaughter claim occurred some time before the actual shooting, giving her time to “cool down.”
· “Evidence was minimally sufficient to inject the issue of sudden passion based on adequate cause.” Up to the jury to make a decision.

State v. Avery[D was convicted of second-degree murder and appealed claiming that court erred in refusing to instruct jury on voluntary manslaughter]. p. 53
1. There was evidence that shooting was intentional but arose out of sudden passion based on adequate cause. New trial ordered.

People v. Page[D convicted of murder of man and requested voluntary manslaughter instruction for same-sex sexual advances towards him. Trial judge refused]. P. 57
1. D argued that in two other cases, the D’s received jury instructions for voluntary manslaughter in cases similar to his. No, one was because of a struggle that ensued and the question of whether the evidence was sufficient to entitle the D to a voluntary manslaughter instruction was not in issue.