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Criminal Law
West Virginia University School of Law
Ashdown, Gerald G.

Criminal Law Final Outline Professor Ashdown Fall 2010

Part I. The Criminal Justice System Legal Concepts of Criminality

Chapter 1. Overview of Criminal Procedure

Procedure Between Arrest and Trial

Pre-Arrest Investigations

i. When there is a report or discovery of an alleged crime, the police must investigate to determine whether a crime was committed, and if so, by whom (cops and robbers stage)

Arrest

i. An arrest generally occurs when the police investigation uncovers facts sufficient to constitute probable cause to arrest, i.e. a reasonable belief that the suspect committed the crime. The vast majority of arrests are made without a judicially issued warrant. Following arrest, police investigation may continue in the form of interrogation of the suspect, further searches for additional evidence, or placing the suspect in a lineup or other identification procedures such as fingerprint of DNA analysis

Booking Process

i. In a typical arrest, the arrestee is transported to the police station and subjected to what is known as a booking process. The process consists of (1) completing the arrest report and preparing the arrestee’s permanent police record; (2) fingerprinting, and photographing the arrestee; and (3) entering on the police “blotter” the name of the arrestee, the personal effects found in his possession, and the date, time, and place of arrest. First Appearance Before a Judicial Officer-Bail: A person held in police custody has a right to a hearing before a judicial officer. The hearing must take place within 48 hours of the accused arrest. The hearing determines whether there were proper grounds for arresting the suspect. If probable cause for the arrest is lacking, the suspect must be released from custody. If the arrest was lawful, the judicial officer must determine whether to hold the arrestee in pretrial custody, or set bail

First Appearance Before a Judicial Officer – Bail

i. A person held in police custody has a right to a hearing before a judicial officer. The hearing must take place within 48 hours of the accused arrest. The hearing determines whether there were proper grounds for arresting the suspect. If probable cause for the arrest is lacking, the suspect must be released from custody. If the arrest was lawful, the judicial officer must determine whether to hold the arrestee in pretrial custody, or set bail

Preliminary Hearing

i. When a preliminary hearing is held, it is a judicial proceeding to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to require the accused to stand trial. If the preliminary hearing judge determines that reasonable grounds to try the accused are lacking, he must be released

Grand Jury Indictment

i. Many jurisdictions require that all felony charges be submitted to a grand jury composed of citizens selected to review the evidence and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a trial on the charge sought by the prosecution. Generally, only the prosecution’s evidence is presented to the grand jury, and the accused is not heard nor is defense counsel permitted to be present or offer any evidence

Arraignment and Plea

i. Arraignment consists of bringing the accused before the court, informing him of the charges against him, and asking him to enter a plea to the charges. In most jurisdictions, the accused may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere. A plea of nolo contendere has the same effect as a plea of guilty, except that the admission of guilt cannot be used as evidence in any other action

Pre-Trial Motions

i. Pretrial motions are requests that the trial court take some action such as dismissing a defective indictment, ruling on the admissibility of illegally obtained evidence, or ordering the parties to disclose certain information

The Trial

The Right to a Speedy Trial

i. In all states, and in the federal system, the accused is entitled to a “speedy trial”. Time limits vary from state to state, but the consistent rule is that unless the accused person is tried within the specified period of time he must be released and is thereafter immune from prosecution for that offense

Defendant’s Right to the Assistance of an Attorney

i. The Sixth Amendment provides that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right… to have the assistance of Counsel for his defense

The Right to a Jury Trial

Jury Selection

i. In the selection of the jurors, usually

conduct attempts to negate mental component. In most cases, defense must prove insanity.

Four Reasons for Imposing Criminal Sanctions

Retribution/revenge

Deterrence – punish offenders to prevent others from committing the same or similar crime because of fear of the consequences

i. Seeks to prevent future crimes

ii. Less effective against habitual offenders, more effective for 1st time offender

iii. Forward looking – wants to prevent conduct in the future

Incapacitation – Get the criminals off the street (most persuasive reason)

Rehabilitation – assist criminals to reenter society

i. (Note – sometimes these theories are in conflict with one another)

Chapter 2. Essential Concepts of Criminality

The Prohibited Conduct – “Actus Reus”

Voluntary Act

State must prove consciousness

Unconsciousness- no capacity, eliminates either mental state or voluntary capacity. State must prove that there was capacity. Proof that the act was voluntary negates unconsciousness. Leads to acquittal.

State v. Hinkle (Car Accident with Unconsciousness) – Accident involving unconsciousness. Judge ruled unconsciousness removed the “voluntary act” requirement, jury should have been instructed as such. Must be corroborated evidence of unconsciousness. Must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutor has burden of proof.

MPC – list involuntary as reflexes, convulsions, conduct during unconsciousness, sleep, or due to hypnosis

i. Footnote 22 on page 18, explains why the judge didn’t use mental state in this case and why – Judge in this case is concerned with keeping insanity and unconsciousness separate

Some states consider unconsciousness under the mental state element, but that is dangerous