Chapter Four Book Notes
Chapter Four Book Notes 1100-001
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Raya Lannon on Wednesday September 28, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 1100-001 at University of North Carolina - Charlotte taught by Anita Blowers in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 23 views. For similar materials see Intro to Criminal Justice in Criminal Justice at University of North Carolina - Charlotte.
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Date Created: 09/28/16
CJUS 1100-001 Book Notes Chapter 4- Criminal Law and Defenses WHAT IS LAW Rule of Law: the guiding principle of the U.S. legal system, which states that no single person is more powerful that the law o Government can punish only when there are written laws, created by established procedures, prohibiting specific activities Purpose and Function of the Law o Laws: formal rules of conduct sanctioned by the state o Criminal laws serve a number of functions Protect people and property from harm Designate which behaviors are forbidden Provide clear standards of behavior Limit governments power to penalize people unfairly o Regulate and sometimes maintain social order History of Criminal Law o How did they come about? Human behavior has been governed by unwritten social norms Evolve slowly through social consensus Imposed by those in power As people began living in communities, formal rules of conduct were devised and put in writing Also specified sanctions for behavior violations o Fines, enslavement, banishment, physical punishments, and execution o Hammurabi’s Code: earliest known written laws were set down by Babylonian King Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE). The core of the code was the principle that violators should suffer punishment equal to their offense o Mosaic Law (an eye for an eye), Corpus Iuris Civilis, Justinians Code o King Henry 2 (reigned 1154-1189) Created a single system of laws for the entire kingdom Royal judges- “ride circuit” o Travel around the country hearing cases, assisted by locally chosen juries Common Law: legal system created in England after the Norman Conquest and still used in the United States today. o “uniform or common throughout England” o Relies on judge’s interpretations of previous cases Precedent: previous court decisions that have binding authority on subsequent cases Stare decisis Helps ensure uniformity and predictability o In the U.S. Colonists brought with them the common law system Not the only law o Dutch, Spanish, and French brought civil law based systems Modern Sources of Law in the U.S. o Emanate from federal, state, and local administrative o Some acts are illegal through the U.S. but wide variation exists in how laws are enforced and their punishments o Constitution: document that specifies the components of a government, the duties of each component, and the limits of their power Supreme law of the U.S. Regulates the government- every state has their own constitution Contains section specifying the powers and responsibilities of the three branches of the federal government and qualifications Congress, the executive, and the courts Contains 27 amendments o Statutes: laws enacted by state legislatures or by congress Form a multivolume set known as the United States Code Each state has their own set All the way from business licenses to water use More state than federal statutes because most crimes are of local matters o Ordinances: laws enacted by local governments such as cities and counties o Model Penal Code (MPC): suggested code of criminal law drafted by the American Law Institute and used to guide the states in modernizing their laws Published by the American Law Institute Not a set of laws o Case Law: decisions judges have made in previous court cases Laws cannot be passed by federal, state, or local judges Do interpret them o Interpretations are followed in later cases o Administrative Agencies: Administrative Law Environmental protection agency, department of motor vehicles, and Board of Education Create rules that carry the force of law o Regulations o International Law: rules that operate among nations and their citizens Treaties and compacts between two or more nations Civil and Criminal Laws o Civil Law: 1) The System of laws, sometimes known as the Roman System, used in many countries that do not use the common law system; 2) Noncriminal law, or law that concerns disputes between individual parties Financial or physical injury by another person or organization Injured can bring about a lawsuit o Plaintiff: party who initiates the lawsuit in a civil case o Defendant: the person against whom criminal charges or a civil lawsuit are filed o Torts: civil disputes in which one party sues another for the damages that the defendant’s actions have caused o Damages: payments that a defendant must make to a winning plaintiff in a civil lawsuit to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries or costs that the defendant’s actions have caused Other kinds include contract law and property law o Criminal Law: body of laws in which people are punished by the government for specific prohibited actions Distinguished from civil law in a number of ways Society has been injured by the defendant’s actions Only the government may bring criminal cases o Victim doesn’t need to press charges o Pursued based on the merits of the case Defendants who lose can either be incarcerated in jail or prison or be sentenced to death Criminal defendants are found guilty when civil defendants are found liable Conviction tends to bring greater moral condemnation from society Defendants are entitled to a number of legal protectors o Access to a government paid attorney State, not the victim, charges the defendant o Victims have little or no influence Standard of proof in criminal cases: Guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt o Myth/Reality Myth: double jeopardy occurs when someone is sued in civil court and tried in criminal court for the same act Reality: according to the U.S. Constitution, double jeopardy protection does not apply to civil cases o Double Jeopardy: The Fifth Amendment right that protects anyone from being tried twice for the same offense Does not protect from civil lawsuits Example: OJ Simpson Trials can bear similarities Same courtroom and outcome may be similar o Restitution: in a criminal case, the money a defendant must pay to a victim for damages Criminal Law: Misdemeanors, Felonies, and Infractions o Felony: serious criminal offense that brings a potential punishment of a year or more in a state or federal prison Incarceration in state of federal prison o Misdemeanors: criminal offenses that is punished by fines or a maximum of a year in a county or city jail Prosecution procedures are considerably less complex than those for felonies Fines, probation, incarceration in local jails o Infractions: minor violation of a local ordinance or state law that brings a potential punishment of fines Includes minor traffic offenses such as speeding o Wobblers- can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor At the discretion of the judge or prosecutor o Myth/Reality Myth: speeding tickets and other infractions are not criminal offenses Reality: all infractions, even minor ones, are criminal LEGAL ELEMENTS OF A CRIME Corpus Delicti- Proof that a crime has been committed o Corpus Delicti: “body of a crime”; the specific elements that must be proved to convict someone of a specific offense Prosecutor must show that a defendants criminal action (actus reus) was the product of criminal intent (mens rea) and the intended action resulted in harm or injury to the victim Criminal Intent: the degree to which a defendant must have intended his or her actions or the consequences of those actions o Essence of a crime: Action, Intent, and Harm Generally required to convict a criminal defendant o In some cases… a defendant can be guilty even though one or more of the key elements is absent Actus Reus- The Criminal Act o Actus Reus: the specific act required to convict a person for a specific crime “evil or guilty act” Example: Actus reus for the crime of perjury in Florida is making a false statement under oath during a public proceedings o Murder… Cause another person’s death With weapon yourself or by hiring or compelling someone else to do the murder Mens Rea- The Defendant’s Mental State o Mens Rea: the level of criminal intent, or the mental state usually required to convict a person of a criminal act Different crimes represent different levels Levels of mens rea o Purposefully Intending the offense and its consequences o Knowingly Being certain in the result of the actions regardless of whether the offender wants them o Recklessly Knowing that there is a substantial risk of the consequences o Negligently Behaving differently from the way a reasonable person would have behaved o To be criminal, intent and act must occur o Generally, when a defendant lacks the required mens rea or intent for a particular crime, they are not found criminally responsible o Establishing mens rea Judge or jury makes judgment of the individuals capability of forming it If capable, judge or jury then establishes whether the person actually had the requisite mens rea at the time of committing the actus reus o Can be very difficult to determine whether a person had the required mens rea Adolescent or mental illness Cannot be measured objectively o Strict Liability Offense: crimes that have no mens rea requirement; a person who commits the requisite actus reus may be convicted of the offense regardless of intent Generally associated with less harsh punishments than if there were mens rea Example: Statutory rape o Myth/Reality Myth: the law excuses children from criminal responsibility Reality: even young children may be found criminally responsible for their criminal behaviors and can be tried as adults in some states Accomplices to a crime… o Same requirements of proving actus reus and mens rea o Supplied weapon, served as a lookout, drive a getaway car, sheltered a fugitive There must be beyond a reasonable doubt that it was done with intent of aiding and abetting the crime Can be difficult to prove Inchoate Offenses o Inchoate Offenses: crimes that have been begun but are not completed o Attempt Example: Decide to rob a liquor store, obtain a gun, drive to the store, enters, points the gun at the clerk, and demands the money o Before the clerk can comply, an off-duty cop stops the offender and places them under arrest Usually carries the same penalties as the completed offense o Other types: Conspiracy- an agreement with other people to commit a criminal act Solicitation- persuading or inducing someone else to commit a crime Other Elements of Crime o Some cases require a particular result occur Homicide Causation o Concurrence Mens rea and actus reus must occur at more or less the same time and in concert CRIMINAL DEFENSES The law views human beings as conscious, rational, and intentional agents of behavior Is accused of committing a crime, criminal defendants have the opportunity to claim a variety of circumstances and conditions that may serve as defenses Defendant can be wrongly accused o Possibly in the case of an eye witness mistakenly identifying the accused Defendant would present an alibi Explaining when and what they were doing at the time of the crime Proved in a variety of ways o Testimony of the individuals present with the defendant o Video surveillance footage that places defendant elsewhere Other defenses o Prove defendant guilty but argue they shouldn’t be held criminally responsible Mens rea was diminished or lacking at the time Mistake o Generally presumed to know the law Changing nature make it impossible to know all laws all the time Ignorance is not an acceptable defense o Defense of mistake argues… Mistake related to a fact of the crime may have affected the state of mind of the defendant in such a way as to cause the person to commit the crime Without mens rea o Mistaken about a fact, not about the law Intoxication o In most cases intoxication cannot be used as a defense o A successful intoxication defense happens when one is so intoxicated the mens rea required for a particular crime cannot be formed o Acceptance of the defense varies state to state o Can be used when intoxication is involuntary The Justification Defense o Admit to breaking the law but present the courts with a justification for their behavior Justifiable by circumstances surrounding the incident o Duress, necessity, self-defense, entrapment o Duress: being coerced into committing a crime Duress: a defense in which the defendant claims that he or she was forced or coerced into committing a crime Viable as long as the crime is not murder o Necessity: when circumstances require an illegal act Necessity: a defense in which the defendant must demonstrate that he or she had to commit the crime to avoid more severe consequences Exceptions when killing is deemed a necessity Death of the victim was imminent Continuation of victim’s life threatens the life of others “lesser of the two evils” defense o Self-Defense: protecting yourself or your property When threatened by someone else, the threatened individual may be compelled to defend themselves with the use of force Three requirements must be satisfied to justify this claim Action against the perceived threat must be necessary o No other less harmful means of dealing with the threat can be reasonably available o Stand-your-ground law Self-defense must be proportionate to the defense o Cannot be significantly greater than the unlawful force threatened or used against the person Threat against which the individual is defending himself or herself must be imminent or immediate o Entrapment: being deceived into committing a crime Entrapment: a situation in which law enforcement officers or agents trap or trick a person into committing a crime that the person would not otherwise have committed The standards for entrapment vary o Exists when there is no predisposition No preexisting desire to commit the offense When alleged, the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant was not entrapped These cases typically involve those who authorities already suspect are involved in criminal activity Insanity o Insanity: a defense in which the defendant admits committing the criminal act but claims not to be culpable due to mental illness Unrelated to the medical community’s understanding of mental disorder Psychiatrists and psychologists often contribute their opinions Judge or jury ultimately determines whether a defendant was insane at the time of a crime o Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity: a verdict in which the jury determines that the defendant is not criminally culpable due to mental illness Acquitted of the charges and discharged from the criminal justice system Instead of incarceration they receive psychiatric treatment o Myth/Reality Myth: insanity is a common verdict in criminal courts in the United States Reality: an insanity plea is put forward in less than 1% of all felony trials, and of those only 25% succeed with a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict. Thus, in 1000 felony cases, only 10 defendants plead insanity, and of those, fewer than 3 succeed o Definitions of Insanity The courts have developed a system of definitions, guidelines, and practices that enables them to assess the mental state of the defendant Mental disease or defect that was directly involved 3 primary rules for determining insanity McNaughtan Rule, Durham Rule, and American Law Institute Rule o The McNaughtan Rule McNaughtan Rule: a standard for insanity that asks whether the defendant was unable to know what he or she was doing or to distinguish right from wrong Most commonly used standard Established in England following the acquittal of Daniel McNaughtan for assassinating the Prime Minister’s Secretary Displayed symptoms of schizophrenia o Queen Victoria convinced the House of Lords to establish standards for the insanity defense “right or wrong test” At the time of the crime a defendant must have had a “defect of reason from disease of the mind” o Rendered him unable to know what he was doing If he did know what he was doing, he did not know that it was wrong Irresistible Impulse Test: a standard for insanity that asks whether the defendant had a mental disease or defect, as a result of which the defendant was unable to control his or her behavior Broadens McNaughtan from being solely a cognitive test of insanity to one that considers behavioral control o The Durham Rule Came about when the McNaughtan standard was outdated in view of the growing body of psychiatric knowledge about mental disorders and disease Durham Rule: a standard for insanity that asks whether the defendant’s conduct was the product of a mental disease or defect “an accused is not criminally responsible if his unlawful act was the product of mental disease or defect” Disease that could be treated if not cured Quickly fell from favor due to its vagueness in defining mental disease Today, only used by New Hampshire o The American Law Institute Rule: Substantial Capacity Test The American Law Institute Rule: a standard for insanity that asks whether the defendant lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of the act or conform to the law Can be considered an improvement over McNaughtan because it permitted the defense for those who were severely affected by mental illness and still be able to understand to a limited extent what they were doing Used in 19 states and federal and military courts o Guilty but Mentally Ill Guilty but Mentally Ill: verdict for a person recognized to be mentally ill but still considered criminally responsible for the crime Right to psychiatric treatment during incarceration Other Defenses o Infancy: defense that sometimes protects very young offenders from criminal liability because they do not understand the consequences of their actions Between 7 and 14 presumed incapable of forming necessary mens rea o Consent: a defense against criminal liability because the victim actually gave the defendant permission to engage in the prohibited acts
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