Week 3 Fundamentals of Criminal Law
Week 3 Fundamentals of Criminal Law CJ 2360.002
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Maricela Castro on Sunday September 18, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CJ 2360.002 at Texas State University taught by Dr. J. D. Elshoff, B.A., J.D., C.Min., in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 36 views. For similar materials see Fundamentals of Criminal Law in Criminal Justice at Texas State University.
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Date Created: 09/18/16
CJ 2360.002 FUNDAMENTALS OF CRIMINAL LAW WEEK 3 9/13/2016 Ø CHAPTER 3-Requirement of an Act o Actus reus— an illegal act; the act of failure to act that constitutes the crime o Mens rea— the mental state required to constitute a crime o To constitute a crime, there must be a joint union or operation of act and intent; the act and intent must occur together o “Scienter”: strange word that means the degree of knowledge that makes a person criminally liable for the act o General intent: the state of mind in which the defendant did not intend to bring about a specific result o Specific intent: the state of mind used by the courts for crimes that require proof of a particular mental state of intent or knowledge o Constructive intent: occurs when the defendant does not intend the harm but should have known it created a high risk of harm o Transferred intent: occurs when a person intends to harm one person but instead harms another person o Criminal negligence: gross deviation from the standard of care required by an individual o Strict and vicarious liability: some of the mala prohibita crimes do not require proof of culpability; mere proof the act was done is sufficient to convict an individual. Examples are: § Selling impure or unadulterated food § Selling prohibited beverages to minors § Selling misbranded or mislabeled articles § Driving without a license o Causation § Causation is an implicit element of the actus reus § Actual cause exists if the result would not have occurred when it did in the absences of that factor § Proximate cause, or the legal cause, refers to the act that was directly responsible for the harm § For a criminal defendant’s conduct to be regarded as a proximate cause, the victim’s injury must be a “direct and natural result” of the defendant’s actions. o Legal causation: a cause recognized by law as necessary to impose criminal liability o Criminal sanctions: punishments that are associated with being convicted of crimes. o Culpability: blameworthiness for criminal conduct based on mens rea. o Negligence: the unconscious creation of risk, or the mental state in which the actor unknowingly creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm to others. o Criminal Negligence: behavior in which a person fails to reasonably perceive substantial and unjustifiable risks of dangerous consequences. § Negligence of such a nature and to such a degree that it is punishable as a crime; or flagrant and reckless disregard for the safety of others or willful indifference to the safety and welfare of others. CJ 2360.002 FUNDAMENTALS OF CRIMINAL LAW WEEK 3 o General Requirements of Culpability § A person is not guilty of committing an offense, unless he acts: • Purposely; • Knowingly; • Recklessly; or • Negligently o Model Penal Code (MPC): a model code of criminal laws developed by the American Law Institute for the purpose of standardizing general provisions of criminal liability, sentencing, defenses, and the definitions of specific crimes between and among the states. o Mala in se: crimes that are inherently bad; for example, murder, rape, and theft. o Mala prohibita: acts that are crimes only because the government has declared them criminal. Acts that are not inherently bad. For example, hunting without a license. o There are 2 type of PRESUMPTIONS § Permissible or Rebuttable • The fact-finder (judge or jury) may find fact B after fact A is established. § Mandatory or Conclusive • If fact A is established, the fact-finder must accept the existence of fact B. Ø Case Briefs for Chapter 3 Ø Jones v. US (DC Cir. 1962), 308 F. 3d 307)— (There are 4 situations wherein failure to act may constitute a breach of legal duty) o whether or not there was a legal duty to act Ø West v. Commonwealth (KY App. 1996), 935 S.W. 2d 315— (One acts “recklessly” with respect to a result when he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or the circumstances exists) o I— whether the commonthealth error recording during the investigation Ø Pelayo-Garcia v. Holder (9 Cir. 2009), 589 F. 3d 1010— (Defendant was a male, 21 and female was under the age of 16 years; statue had no “scienter” requirement; thus, sexual intercourse was a strict liability crime) o California’s penal code 261.5 Ø U.S. v. Bailey (1980), 444 U.S. 394— (Defendant of necessity to escape from federal prison had to be based on imminence of a threat to safety, and no alternate means of dealing with it) Ø U.S. v. Murdock (1931), 284 U.S. 141— (Defendant’s honest belief he had a right to not answer questions was not willful, though there was no constitutional right to not answer questions. Ø State v. Rocker (1970), 475 P.2d 684— (Intentionally exposing themselves on a public beach was sufficient intent to offend the community’s common sense of decency.) Ø People v. Rideout (2006), 727 N.W. 2d 630— (The victim’s injury must be the “direct and natural result of the defendant’s actions. Conviction reversed, as the trial court failed to instruct the jury as to proximate cause (victim was not killed by the defendant, but by later passing traffic.)) CJ 2360.002 FUNDAMENTALS OF CRIMINAL LAW WEEK 3 Ø U.S. v. Vincent (Ark 2009), 575 F. 3d 820— (Was “possession” of a sawed-off shotgun a violent felony under the statute? Yes, as it will inflict serious physical injury.) Ø Chambers v. U.S. (2009), 129 S.Ct. 687— (Failure-to-report offense of possessing a weapon was not a “violent felony; no use of force, attempted use of force, threatened use of physical force.) o Failing to report it on someone else is not a felony. Ø Knox v. Commonwealth (1987), 735 S.E. 2d 711— (wife had a duty to act when her husband raped their daughter; failure to act rendered guilt) Ø State v. Peterson (1974), 522 P.2d 912— (though defendant was a passenger in a car and not the driver, he was a participant in the “drag race,” creating an unjustifiable risk of harm to others; m’slaughter aff’d.) o He was found guilty. Ø Henry v State (2009), 184 MD App. 146— (transferred intent applied to murder of an unintended victim) o End of chapter 3 9/15/2016 Ø Chapter 4—Inchoate or Anticipatory Crimes o Inchoate crimes: criminal acts that go beyond mere thoughts but occur before the substantive criminal acts are completed. § Inchoate crimes are also referred to as preparatory crimes. o Solicitation in general (non-sexual): 1) having the intent that another person commits a crime; and 2) asking, encouraging or requesting another person to commit a crime o Face-to-face solicitation (non-sexual): requesting, commanding or attempting to induce a minor to engage in conduct that would make the minor a party to the commission of an offense o Online sexual solicitation: knowingly soliciting a minor to meet another person (including the actor), with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual conduct with the actor or with another person rd o Ex Parte Fisher (Texas 2015), 481 S.W. 3 414 o Conspiracy: an agreement between 2 or more parties to commit a crime o Complicity: refers to the degree of involvement in a crime as either a principal or as an accomplice. o Preparatory acts: acts committed by the offender in preparation or prior to the commission of the substantive crime. o Attempt: a specific intent to commit a crime, coupled with an act in furtherance thereof, that goes beyond mere preparation o Parties to a crime: all those who take part in the commission of a crime and those who aid and abet and are therefore criminally liable for the crime. o Principal(s): person(s) who commit the substantive crime o Accomplice: one who promotes or assists another in commission of a crime o Accessory: one who, after the commission of a crime, aids, conceals or warns a principal to avoid arrest, prosecution, conviction or punishment for the crime § Accessory before the fact—a person who aids and abets in preparation for crime commission but who was not present of the crime scene. CJ 2360.002 FUNDAMENTALS OF CRIMINAL LAW WEEK 3 § Accessory after the fact—a person who did not participate in the crime but furnished postcrime assistance to keep the offender from being detected or from being captured. o Problems with the element of attempt: § Legal impossibility: if an act is not a crime, the actor cannot be punished for doing it § However, if the act is a crime, the actor can be found guilt even if it was factually impossible to commit it o Problems with the element of solicitation: § Communication to the other party; the crime is complete even without effective communication § Request to commit a “legal” act; no liability even if the actor believes the act is a crime § Withdrawal; there is no liability if it is complete and voluntary o Problems with the element of conspiracy § At least two (2) persons must agree to commit a crime § Withdrawal from the conspiracy AFTER the crime has been committed is not a defense § Each defendant is jointly guilty of the crimes of the conspirators § Duration: the conspiracy lasts until all the objectives of the conspiracy are completed. o Accomplices § An accomplice is a person who: • With the intent of assisting in the commission of a crime, • Solicits, aids or assists another in committing the crime; or • Having a duty to prevent the crime, fails to use reasonable efforts to do so o Accessories § An accessory is a person who: • After the crime has been committed, • Aids, conceals, or warns a principal, • With the intent that the principal avoid arrest, prosecution, conviction or punishment o Problems with accomplices: § One who withdraws after encouraging or assisting may avoid liability o Problems with accessories: § Without a duty to report a crime, failure to report it does not result in liability § No purpose to avoid or impede law enforcement o Wharton’s rule: a rule applicable to conspiracy cases that holds that when the targeted crime by its very nature takes more than one party to commit, there can be no conspiracy when no more than the number of parties required to commit the offense participated in it. Ø Case Briefs for ndapter 4 Ø U.S. v Davis (2 Cir. 1993), 8 F. 3d 923— (Passing false documents in an attempt to obtain an early release from prison constituted an attempted escape) CJ 2360.002 FUNDAMENTALS OF CRIMINAL LAW WEEK 3 Ø People v Rizzo (1927), 158 N.E. 888— (4 defendants were cruising the streets of New York looking for a payroll clerk, Mr. Rao. They never found him, but their suspicious activities alerted police who arrested them and charged them with attempted robbery. Held: mere preparation was insufficient to constitute attempt) Ø Commonwealth v. Kelly (1948), 58 A.2d 375— (the “substantial step” is not completed until the accused has it within his or her power to enact the crime almost immediately) Ø People v Quentin (1968), 296 N.Y.S. 2d 443— (a communication to a large and undefined group will normally not be a “solicitation”) o Ø Krulewitch v U.S. (1947), 336 U.S. 440— (conspiracy is difficult to define, adopting “chameleon-like” traits, changing color, etc) Ø Commonwealth v. Welch (2006), 912 A.2d 857— (multiple inchoate charges may not be brought that contain the same criminal intent) Ø People v Superior Court (Decker) (Cal. 2007), 157 P.3d 1017— (attempting to hire an undercover police officer had all the elements of attempted murder) Ø State v Damms (1960), 9 Wis. 2d 183— (the fact that the gun was unloaded did not protect defendant from the charge of attempted murder) page 53 in textbook o F, Accused Ralph Damms, with intent to kill, held a pistol to his wife's head, and pulled the trigger twice. The weapon did not fire, as it did not contain any cartridges. The evidence indicated that accused in fact thought it was fully loaded o I, Whether or not the gun was loaded was a factual, not a legal question. o R, o A, The jury believed the police officers’ version and convicted Ralph of murder in the 1 degree. o C, The appellate court upheld the jury’s finding that Ralph intended to kill his wife. The court stated that a “factual impossibility” is not a defense to crime. Ø Wilson v State (1905), 38 So. 46— (altering only the numbers on a check to make it appear as a higher value was ineffective; att. Forgery reversed) o whether or not the defense of legal impossibility applies: read pg. 54 Ø People v Jaffee (1906), 185 N.Y. 497— (since property defendant took was not stolen property, conviction reversed – impossibility) Ø Bender v State (1969), 253 A. 2d 686— (where defendants were “acting jointly” a formal conspiracy need not be proven; implied from conduct) Ø Orear v U.S. (1919), 261 F. 257— (withdrawing from a conspiracy after an overt act has been committed is no defense) Ø Ex Parte Fisher (Texas 2015), 481 S.W. 3d 414— (defendant solicited a minor online for sex; his constitutional challenge was unsuccessful) Ø J Thank you for reading! PLEASE CONTACT ME IF THERE’S ANY ERRORS OR MISSING POINTS I’D BE GLAD TO ADDRESS THEM