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

Proving the crime
Illustrative case: U.S. v. Jackson:  
Ø      What evidence is necessary to satisfy the prosecution’s beyond a reasonable doubt burden? 
Ø      What is sufficient information to prove the identity of Aaron Jackson? Prosecution just provided a piece of paper with the common name “Aaron Jackson” (conditional sufficiency argument rejected by the court)
Ø      Burden of proof/persuasion: rests on the state, the prosecution, but not in all instances
Ø      Beyond a reasonable doubt standard
Ø      During stages of the criminal trial there are some times that preponderance of the evidence is enough (sentencing and victim impact statements)
Ø      Affirmative defense: burden on prosecution when affirmative defense negates an element of the crime, ex: intent versus self-defense
Ø      Limitation to burden of proof: due process clause that government must provide sufficient evidence

Types of proof: raw facts, circumstantial evidence; circumstantial evidence can be sufficient for a conviction
DRUNK DRIVING: Illustrative case: People v. Solmonson
Ø      Solmonson passed out in car on the shoulder, no witnesses to him driving but keys in ignition and engine still warm; beers in the passenger seat and empty cans in the back seat
Ø      Cox case distinguished from Solmonson because dissent finds the change of the language in the statutes was meant to decriminalize sitting in a running car while drunk
Ø      Did it make a difference that he was in the driver’s seat?
Ø      In Cox, majority found that he Cox was making the car function/operate by turning it on so he was guilty of operating under the influence
Ø      Driving: physically driving or operating a motor vehicle; they got Cox on the operating part

Illustrative case: Queen v. Dudley and Stephens
Ø      Basically ate the boy on the boat in order to save the rest of the crew, argues the defense of necessity
Ø      A discussion tool to trigger thought and on what punishment is right

MURDER: Illustrative case: State v. Jensen
Ø      Jensen, obsessed with her ex-husband, devises a plan to kill his current girlfriend with insulin and methamphetamine – shows that appellant has the burden that punishment was unreasonable and it was a clear abuse of discretion (Jensen was a nurse)

Consideration for punishment: 1) nature of crime, 2) character of the offender; 3) protection of public interest

Styles of sentencing: Michigan uses indeterminate sentences where the high end of the sentence will be set by statute and the low end of the sentence will be determined by pre-sentencing report (offense variables [OV] and prior record variables [PRV])

Illustrative case: Crawford v. State
Ø      Admissibility of victim impact statements
Ø      They need to be relevant but doesn’t establish a blanket rule that you can use them – must hold some probative value and give a quick glimpse of this life

Jury nullification: you cannot request specifically that the jury should rule in favor of the facts over the law but you can suggest it indirectly and discretely

Theories of punishment:

elligence can understand
Ø      Stalking requires the state to establish that: 1) person was at the “place in question” for an illegitimate purpose; 2) person followed the plaintiff from “place to place”

Rule of lenity: always better to let 10 guilty people go free than the have 1 innocent person convicted

SODOMY: Lawrence v. Texas 539 US 558 (2003)
Ø      Court found law against sodomy unconstitutional because it was outside the scope of what the government can regulate, i.e.: a sexual act between two consenting individuals in a private residence whether there is formal recognition of their status or not

Elements of a crime:
actus reus
mens rea
attendant circumstances

MPC elements of a crime:
“element of an offense” means 1) such conduct and 2) such attendant circumstances 3) such a result of conduct as
is included in the description of the forbidden conduct in definition of offense
establishes the required kind of culpability
negative an excuse or justification of such conduct
negative a defense under the statute of limitations
establishes the jurisdiction or venue

Model Penal Code: serves as guidelines for state criminal statutes, adopted by ALI in 1962 – also a persuasive source