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

Chanenson_Criminal_Law_Fall_2009
 
Punishment Purposes: Some basic Theories:
·                     Just deserts (retribution) àsometimes known as revenge…moral aspect to this theory…punish someone for what they did wrong
·                     Deterrence (general deterrenceàsuffering of the criminal would serve as an example to others to deter them from committing future crimes.)
·                     Prevention (specific deterrenceà punishment is focused directly on the individual to stop them from committing the crime again
·                     Incapacitation (restraintàwe are scared of the defendant and want/need him to be locked up)
·                     Rehabilitationàfocused on it as a medical model, defendant was sick and the cure was prison
·                     Rule of Lenity:
a.    Everything else being equal, we will construe the law in a way that favors the defendant.
b.    In order to apply it, everything else must really be equal
c.     Have to look at legislative intent, language of the statute
d.    MPC DOES NOT APPLY RULE OF LENITY
·                      
 
I.                   ELEMENTS OF CRIMES: ACTUS REUS
a.      Significance of Crime Elements
                                                  i.      Specificity in Crime Definition àEach crime is constructed to minimize intrusion into activity that is not disapproved. The purpose is to minimize unintended effects on innocent conduct. 
1.      A statute defining a crime achieves these purposes by listing the elements of the offense. Every element of the statute must satisfy the reasonable doubt requirement for the completion of a crime.
 
b.      Actus Reus in General à page 117-118
                                                  i.      DefinitionàEvery criminal offense requires a voluntary act or an omission to act where there is a legal duty to act.  States cannot criminalize on thoughts alone!
1.      Actus reus may include all required circumstances, results and causation, as well as the physical act itself.
                                                ii.      Different Types of Actus Reus Elements:
1.      Voluntary Acts or Criminalizable Omission
a.      An act that is the PRODUCT OF THE ACTOR’S WILL (121)
b.      EX/ State v. Sowry àPossession of drugs inside jail statute says “knowingly conveying.” That D’s person and the possessions on his person were in jail was not a product of a voluntary act of conveying on D’s part. Those events were entirely involuntary.
                                                                                                                          i.      DISTINGUISHED/ Decina àD is liable for reckless homicide because he knew he was subject to seizures, therefore even though he passed out when he crashed, he ran a known risk that he would pass out. Voluntary act is driving with knowledge that you’ll black out.   
c.       Sleepwalkers on page 121
2.      (Attendant) Circumstances
a.       Makes something otherwise not criminal, criminal; EX/ cigarettes to minors…bribery of a juror requires that the person bribed have been a juror (not another official)
3.      Harm or Result
a.       Many statutes require a specific harm to have occurred before statute applies. The harm element, or result element, sometimes is only the creation of the risk of harm; EX/ reckless endangerment
                                                                                                                          i.      Concept of aggravated offenses àgrading more seriously or subject to more punishment b/c of aggravating circumstances
4.      Invisible Actus ElementsàActual ID, date and the jurisdiction
 
c.       Actus Reus: Omissions and Legal Duties (124)
                                                  i.      When actus reus punishes the failure to do something, the failure usually must breach a legal duty to perform that act.
                                                ii.      Legitimacy problems arise from a lack of notice of duties
1.      EX/ Registration StatutesàIs there a lack of due process if a D doesn’t know of the statute?
a.       LAMBERT TEST: Cannot criminalize failure to register unless one knew or should have known of requirement. 
                                              iii.      Sources of legal duties may arise from:
1.      Common Law
a.      Many arise from relationships (EX/ Doctor-patient). An interesting issue arises whether a duty of care for a child applies to a boyfriend living in a “familial relationship.” See Miranda infra. 
b.      Others: voluntary assumption of responsibility, property owners to protect safety of people on their premises and when one causes harm to another.
2.      Contracts
3.      Statutes
4.      Good Samaritan statutes

                                              iv.      EX/ Miranda àCommon law duty of parent-child relationship (status) PLUS voluntary care (familial relationship developed by live-in BF). 
1.      Status relationship is stretched by the BF’s assumption of step-father duties—considered himself the step-father and
2.      Voluntary care is a stretch because he doesn’t really impose this duty
3.      Policy àThough we don’t want to make new common laws, we should further protection against child abuse.
 
d.      Actus Reus: Possession (133)
                                                  i.      Possession is an act
                                                ii.      Requires two elements: possession (actual or constructive) and knowledge
                                              iii.      MPC-influenced statutes give unknowing possessors a duty to terminate possession the minute they learn of their possession
                                               iv.      Policy drives these broad possession statutes because possession is difficult to prove, and there is great public interest in criminalizing drugs
 
e.       Actus Reus: Status Crimes (135)
                                                  i.      In certain situations, Constitution places limits on a legislature’s capacity to define actus reus; status crimes are one such area
                                                ii.      Courts routinely reject the claim that habitual criminal/repeat offender statutes punish for a status reasoning that the sentence merely enhances the sentence for the third crime.
                                              iii.      EX/ Robinson v. California àCriminalizing addiction to narcotics is unconstitutional because there is no actus reus (unvoluntary!) in being an addict and the criminalization will violate the Eighth Amendment (cruel & unusual). 
                                               iv.      EX/ Powell v. Texas à Distinguished from Robinson because public drunkenness is voluntary: it requires two acts, both getting drunk and then being in the public. Further, voluntary act was his decision to take the first drink and not stop thereafter.
1.      Policyà can’t say drunkenness is a fugue state, because then people would be encouraged to get

ilty of a crime, one must have the necessary mental state
b.      General vs. Specific Intent: Introduction à  General Intent is intent merely to perform the physical act in a morally blameworthy state; specific intent is intent not only to perform the act, but also to produce the result, as defined in a specific mens rea. NOTE: the MPC does away with this distinction
                                                  i.      Intended Result Not Necessary for General Intent àThe physical act is proscribed by the statute, and D needs to intend the act, not intend for the result of the act to satisfy a general mens rea; EX/ GBH crime. Sometimes statute requires the prohibited result be reasonably expected to follow the offender’s voluntary act, but not that the result necessarily is intended for general intent. (Specific intent, supra.)
                                                ii.      General Intent Less Likely to be Affected by Intoxication àCourts usually give far less weight to intoxication for general intent than for specific intent crimes. However, they rarely reason this way, instead they usually reason through policy
                                              iii.      Where Difference Between Specific/General Matters the Most (defenses)
1.      Mistake of Fact
2.      Mistake of Law
3.      Voluntary Intoxication
4.      Diminished Capacity
                                              iv.      EX/ US v. Lynch àonly mens requirement is that you knew by your recklessness that you were picking something out of the ground, not that that something is an artifact (general intent*)
 
Section 2.01 Requirement of a Voluntary Act; Omission a Basis of Liability; Possession as an Act
(1) A person is not guilty of an offense unless his liability is based on conduct which includes a voluntary act or the omission to perform an act of which he is physically capable.
(2) The following are not voluntary acts within the meaning of this section:
            (a) a reflex or convulsion
            (b) a bodily movement during unconsciousness or sleep
            (c) conduct during hypnosis or resulting from hypnotic suggestion
            (d) a bodily movement that otherwise is not a product of the effort or determination of the actor, either conscious or habitual.
(3) Liability for the commission of an offense may not be based on an omission unaccompanied by action unless:
            (a) the omission is expressly made sufficient by the law defining the offense; or
            (b) a duty to perform the omitted act is otherwise imposed by law.
(4) Possession is an act, within the meaning of this section, if the possessor knowingly procured or received the thing possessed or was aware of his control thereof for a sufficient period to have been able to terminate his possession.