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Criminal Law
Wayne State University Law School
Dillof, Anthony M.

COMMON LAW : General


1. was conscious object to cause the result
2. knew that it was virtually certain to occur as the result of conduct.

Inten: Purposefully; Knowingly

Purposefully: conscious object to engage in conduct or result

Knowingly: aware of nature of conduct or existing circumstance; aware conduct will be practically certain to cause result.

Knowledge: person acts knowingly if

is in fact aware
correctly believes that it exists
suspects that it exists and purposely avoids learning if suspicion is correct.

Knowingly: aware of nature of conduct or existing circumstance; aware conduct wil be practically certain to cause result.

Recklessness: if person should be aware that he is taking a very substantial and unjustifiable risk.

Recklessness: if he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that her conduct will cause social harm.

Negligence: person should have been aware that conduct creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk of social harm.


should be aware of substantial and unjustifiable risk
gross deviation from reasonable person standard of care.

COMMON LAW: Mistake of fact

MPC: Mistake of Fact

General: The first step in analyzing a mistake of fact claim in a common law jurisdiction is to identify the nature of the crime as either strict liability, specific intent, or general intent.

Specific Intent: Δ not guilty if mistake of fact negates the specific intent of crime

General Intent: Δ guilty if mistake of fact was unreasonable; Reasonable mistake is usually defense.

Strict Liability: mistake of fact never a defense

General: Uses a straightforward elemental approach to matters of mens rea, including mistakes of fact.

Specifically as to mistakes of fact, 2.04(1) provides that a mistake is a defense if it negates the mental state required to establish any element of the offense. It is irrelevant whether the offense would be identified as general-intent or specific-intent at common law.

Strict Liability: mistake of fact is defense if negates the mental state element required in the definition of offense
Applies to all offenses in the same manner

Exceptions: will be punished for lesser included offense if circumstances were as they believed them to be.

COMMON LAW: Self Defense

MPC: Self Defense

Minority: cop must reasonable believe he committed atrocious felony.

Deadly force may never be used by citizen acting on his onw to make arrest. However cop, or citizen assisting other whom he reasonably believes to be cop may use deadly force if he believes that: 1. force is necessary to prevent escape, 2. if practicle to do so, he warns suspect of intent to use deadly force, 3. substantial risk suspect will cause serious harm or death to another is not apprehended.

COMMON LAW: Necessity Defense

MPC: Necessity Defense Elements

lesser of 2 evils
Imminent harm
Causal Element: must believe actions will abate threatened harm
non fault of actor

must believe his conduct is necessary to avoid imminent harm
harm actor seeks to avoid must be greater than that sought to be avoided by law prohibiting conduct
cant be any legislative intent to exclude justification claimed by actor
defense not available if actor was reckless or negligent in brining about necessity situation.