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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Allison Voss on Wednesday October 5, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 212 at Western Illinois University taught by Lisa Schaefer in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 2 views. For similar materials see Criminal Law in Leja at Western Illinois University.
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Date Created: 10/05/16
Chapter 3 Criminal Law: The Criminal Act: Voluntary act is the first principle of criminal liability: In order to have criminal liability there must be criminal conduct Criminal conduct is conduct that is without justification or excuse Voluntary act is the “conduct” part of criminal conduct Many crimes don’t include a criminal intent or bad result, but only rarely does a crime not require a criminal act (strict liability) Elements of Criminal Liability: Actus Reus—the criminal act Mens rea—the criminal intent Concurrence—the requirement that the criminal intent trigger the criminal act Attendant circumstances (when a crime does not require the mens rea, it generally requires some attendant circumstance) Bad result causing a criminal harm Corpus delicti = “body of crime” but it doesn’t necessarily mean a physical body. It refers, instead to the elements of a crime Criminal act = voluntary bodily movement. Criminal conduct = criminal act triggered by the criminal intent (Cf. criminal liability = criminal conduct that qualifies for punishment, i.e. no justification/excuse) Conduct crimes = crimes which require a criminal act triggered by criminal intent Attendant circumstances element – sometimes a specific mens rea is not required, there must, however, be a circumstance present that is connected to the act, the intent, or the result o Examples – OWI/DUI Bad result crimes o Some serious offenses include all five elements o Voluntary act (criminal act) o Mental element (criminal intent) o Circumstance element o Causation o Harm Criminal Homicide is an example of bad result crime The Criminal Act: The First Principle of Liability: Punish people for what they do, not who they are Punish people for what they do, not what they think Manifest criminality—in order to have criminality, attitudes have to turn into deeds. Deeds leave no doubt about the criminal nature of the act Voluntary Act Requirement: Voluntary Act – conduct that includes a voluntary act satisfies the voluntary act requirement “One voluntary act is enough” rule Voluntary act is an absolute requirement for criminal liability Automatism unconscious bodily movements, i.e. a bodily movement that is not the product of the effort or determination of the actor FaultBased Defenses based on creating a reasonable doubt about the prosecution’s proof of a voluntary act Affirmative Defenses defenses of excuse for criminal liability, which take place after the prosecution has proved the defendant’s criminal conduct Status, Actus Reus, and the Constitution: Statuscharacter or condition of a person or thing Most status do not qualify as actus reus Status can, however, result from voluntary act o Example: meth addicts voluntarily use meth the first time, and alcoholics voluntarily take their first drink Some conditions (status) result from no act at all—we are born with those characteristics/conditions: sex, age, race, ethnicity Compare Robinson with Powell: California statute created crime of personal condition. It punished Robinson for being an addict, not for what he did. 90day sentence was held unconstitutional because it punished him for his sickness. Decision brought other statutes into question. Texas statute made it a crime to be found drunk in public. Court distinguished Robinson and said that Powell was being convicted for voluntarily being in public. Very close case (plurality decision). Omissions as Criminal Acts: Failing to act can satisfy the voluntary act requirement Criminal omissions o Failure to act Failure to report something required o Failure to intervene to protect person or property Omissions are only criminal if there is a legal duty to act Legal duties to act arise in several ways o Statute provides the duty to act Example: duty to report child abuse Contract provides the duty to act Example: law enforcement, fire fighters Special relationship provides the duty to act Example: parentchild NOTE: sometimes a special relationship is created by assuming the care of another (see People v. Oliver) Criminal omissions cannot arise out of failure to perform moral duties Most states impose no duty to render aid to an imperiled stranger or call for help Good Samaritan Doctrine – creates (statutory) duty for stranger to render aid o Only a few states American Bystander Approach—no legal duty to rescue or summon help for someone in danger even if there is no risk in doing so o Most states follow this approach Possession as a Criminal Act: Possession is not an act, it’s a passive condition Legal fiction makes possession a voluntary act Criminal possessions include possession of: (see list) o illegal weapons, illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia o alcohol by minors… Reason we engage in legal fiction of pretending possession is an act: o is in our desire to prevent worse crimes o most people get possession through a voluntary act Kinds of Possessions: Actual possession—having actual physical control (the item is located on the person) Constructive possession—the person has the dominion and control of the item, but it is not on their person Actual and Constructive possession can take two forms: Knowing possession or mere possession Knowing possession—person is aware what they have on them or what it is that they have control over o Most states require possession to be knowing to be criminal act Mere possession—person is not aware what they have on them or what they have control over o Either don’t know they have it, or don’t know what it is they have o Only two states hold that mere possession can be a criminal act
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