Select Page

Criminal Law
Wayne State University Law School
Moran, David A.

I. ACTUS REUS
physical act/unlawful omission by D.
**MUST LOOK AT STATUTE TO DETERMINE WHAT’S REQUIRED FOR ACTUS REUS**
A. Voluntary Acts
1. Must be voluntary/conscious exercise of will. Martin[122]: D NOT guilty bc statute requires in public voluntarily to be charged with using profane language and wasn’t in voluntarily. 
a. Voluntarily unconsciousness (ie drunk) doesn’t provide excuse. Utter
2. DiSena: D guilty even though epileptic attack bc actus reus was driving & done voluntarily.
3. MPC 2.01 exceptions [993]: NOT voluntary: reflect/convulsion, movement while unconscious, conduct during hypnosis, bodily movement not a product of actor’s effort
4. Result crime: offense seeks to prevent/punish harmful result (ie murder)
5. Conduct crime: punishes conduct.  No bad result required for guilt
6. Attendant circumstances: facts that must be true for offense (ie dwelling for burglary)
B. Omissions
1. Legal duty to act: statute imposes duty (taxes), status relationship (parent/child, husband/wife), voluntarily assumed duty of care (precluded care from others), creation of peril, even if justified or no mens rea (ie self-defense, car accident innocently hitting V).  MPC 2.01 [993]: same rule as CL
2. no duty for non-married couples. Beardsley [129]: no duty owed to V bc she wasn’t his wife
3. doctor no duty to sustain life. Barber[135]: D not liable bc pulling feeding tubes wasn’t act, it was omission of food. 
4. Reasonable NOT to act in face of duty when such action would place actor in harm, actor is reasonably scared from acting.
II. MENS REA
A. Nature of Mens rea
1. Cunningham [144].  D NOT guilty bc didn’t intend nor was aware of injury as statute requires
B. Proving Culpability
1. CL Intent.  ‘consciously aware’ that harm is “practically certain to be caused by conduct” (knowledge/purpose).  
a.determined by looking at circumstances befor

material elements/attendant circum.: aware of high probability of X conduct crime
2. aware of high prob prevents against willful blindness
c. recklessly: aware of substantial and unjustifiable risk, gross deviation from std care
d. negligently: should be aware of substantial and unjustifiable risk.  Risk so great that failure to perceive is gross deviation from std of reasonable person in like circumstances (objective std)
***When mens rea absent, assume recklessly; anything higher then also applies***.
C. Knowledge of Attendant Circumstances (facts that must be true at time of actus reus)
1. Statute defines required mens rea as to attendant facts.  Nations [157].  Conviction reserved bc statute required knowledge and D’s actions were “reckless