Limitations on the Criminal Law- Chapter 3
Limitations on the Criminal Law- Chapter 3 CORR 106
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Popular in Introduction to Criminal Justice Systems
Popular in Criminology and Criminal Justice
This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Autumn R on Saturday February 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CORR 106 at Minnesota State University - Mankato taught by Jessica, Mclaughlin in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 33 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Criminal Justice Systems in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Minnesota State University - Mankato.
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Date Created: 02/20/16
Limitations on the Criminal Law- Chapter 3 Wednesday, February 03, 2016 10:49 AM Reading: Government's Law- Making Authority and General Limitations on the Criminal Law Certain procedural protections hail from the U.S. Constitution o Direct pertain to procedures how an individual who is arrested and prosecuted will be treated by the criminal justice system o Indirect pertains to protecting offenders Government's Law-Making Authority Separation of powers o Executive, legislative, and judicial Enforce, make, interpret o Hesitancy of judiciary branch to intrude on legislative branch's law- making People elect legislators and therefor laws reflect the interests of all people If courts routinely decided on matters of legislation it would cause confusion Federalism: a system of government where power is constitutionally divided between a central governing body and various constituent units o Laws made by central governing authority and by the constituent units o Each state also has power to make their own laws o Distinct from a confederation where there is no strong central government o Dual Only powers vested with the federal government are those named in the constitution, the rest is up to the states General Limitations on the Criminal Law Two distinct principles form the foundation of criminal codes specifically crafted according to legal guidelines: legality and lenity Legality means that a defendant cannot be convicted of a crime unless there is specific legislation that makes the act illegal and defines the potential punishment o Provides notice to people what behavior is illegal o Downside is a lack of flexibility Ex. Terrorism- laws have not been made to prevent terrorism or allow enforcement agencies to provide charges before the act that is harmful is completed, but clearly we cannot wait around until a serious act has occurred if the offender is known Lenity requires that the courts construe a statute as favorably as possible to the defendant o Can see where lenity is applied in the "Equal Protection and Ex Post Facto Limitations on the Criminal Law" section o When statutes are overly vague that vagueness should be resolved in favor of the defendant o Downside is wording Not completely clear which allows room for interpretation the the language of the criminal law o Many states have abolished the rule Equal Protection and ex Post Facto Limitations on the Criminal Law Courts get involved in reviewing statutes when there is a clear possibility that it violates the U.S. Constitution 6 constitutional limitation on the criminal law- see page 50 Equal Protection Clause: "no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" Strauder v. Virginia page 50 Michael M. v. Superior Court Standards of Scrutiny in Equal Protection Cases o Strict scrutiny: occurs when a law classifies people based on race, it is unconstitutional unless the law is serving a compelling government interest o Intermediate scrutiny: occurs when a law categorizes based on gender, it is unconstitutional unless it is substantially related to important government interest o Rational basis test: occurs when there is a law that classifies people on any other basis and means that the law is constitutional as long as it is reasonably related to a legitimate government interest The Ex Post Facto Law Prohibition A law enacted in order to retroactively punish behavior Three means by which a law can run afoul of the constitution 1 The law criminalizes an act that was legal when it was committed 2 The law increases the punishment for an act after it was committed 3 It takes away a defense that was available when the crime was committed Ex. Trying a 17 year old as an adult when he committed a crime before laws were changed that claimed juveniles as 16 and under See 3 case examples on page 52-53 Bill of attainder is a law that criminalizes conduct without the benefit of trial Void for Vagueness and Void for Overbreadth Doctrines See cases discussed on page 53-57 Void for Vagueness Supreme court has struck down laws that are too vague Obscenity cases o "incite crime" clause: punishes the printing and circulation of publications that courts or juries may think influence generally persons to commit crimes of violence against the person Loitering and vagrancy The Void for Overbreadth Doctrine Law will be void for overbreadth if it prohibits action that is protected by the constitution Libel: defamation by the written or printed word Slander: defamation by the spoken word Seditious speech: advocates rebellion against the government Seditious speech and libel o See page 55-56 Fighting words and threats to the peace o The government cannot prohibit fighting words simply because they are offensive They must have a tendency to cause acts of violence by the people against whom they are directed Group libel o Sanctioned laws that ban speech that defames a certain group or class of people - or is "libel" towards a specific group Eighth Amendment Limitations on the Criminal Law "punishment for crime… be graduated and proportioned to the offense" Death Penalty Cases Furman v. Georgia (1972) o Invalidated death penalty statutes in 39 states Guided discretion laws: when the death penalty is used in cases other than first degree murder based on the presence of aggravating or mitigating circumstances Woodson v. North Carolina o Mandatory death penalty Roberts v. Louisiana o Mandatory death penalty Gregg v Georgia o Minimized chances that the death penalty would be arbitrarily imposed Coker v. Georgia o Rape case Sentence Length and the Eighth Amendment Rummel v. Estelle o Life in prison for theft Solem v Helm o Life in prison for seventh conviction, not murder Harmelin v. Michigan o Life in prison for cocaine possession See important factors bottom of page 59 The Guarantee against Double Jeopardy Designed to ensure that a person who has been convicted or acquitted of a crime is not tried or punished for the same offense twice Occurs when… 1 Reprosecuted after acquittal 2 Reprosecuted after conviction 3 Subjected to separate punishments for the same offense Benton v. Maryland declared that the fifth amendment is a fundamental right When Double Jeopardy Protection Applies Kansas v. Hendricks Helvering v. Mitchell The Blockburger Rule What constitutes the same offense? Blockburger v. United States o "where the same act or transaction constitutes a violation of two distinct statutory provisions, the test to be applied to determine whether there are two offenses or only one, is whether each requires proof of an additional fact which the other does not." When Double Jeopardy Protection Does Not Apply 1 Conduct committed after the first prosecution 2 Defendant responsible for the second prosecution 3 Court hearing the first offense lacks jurisdiction 4 Defense plea bargains over the prosecution's objection Double Jeopardy and Sentencing Back-to-back punishments Increasing the sentence for the same charge Notes off PowerPoint: Law Enforceable rule Early examples; see pwpt Sources of american criminal law Constitution and state constitutions Statutes/ laws passed by congress, state legislatures, and local laws FDA regulations (set forth by agencies) Case law (court decision) Purpose of laws Legal function… maintain social order Social function… our laws reflect our values or societal boundaries Protects the defendant o Innocent until proven guilty o Direct Procedural o Indirect Prohibits vague laws General Limitations of Criminal Law Legality o If there is not a law then there is no crime Lenity o Law ambiguity should benefit the defendant rather than the government o Some states have abolished; too much interpretation lead to too much lenience in court Constitutional limitations on criminal law Equal protection of the law Ex Post Facto Law Prohibition o Can't go back and convict with new law on old cases Void for Vagueness Doctrine o Must be specific laws Void for Overbreadth Doctrine o Cannot prohibit something that is protected by the constitution Cruel and Unusual Punishment Prohibition (8th Amendment) o 1972 Furman v. Georgia Death penalty; how some states were carrying it out was concluded unconstitutional Double jeopardy prohibition (5th Amendment( o Know exceptions Know on Test *example of law that's behind; cybersex *look at page 58 closely
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