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MBE Subjects II_CrimLaw Outline

MBE Subjects II_CrimLaw Outline

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Published by Lal Legal
MBE bar exam lecture notes for Criminal Law
MBE bar exam lecture notes for Criminal Law

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Published by: Lal Legal on Jun 11, 2014
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06/21/2015

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CRIMINAL LAWI. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
 Look for the guilty hand, moved by the guilty mind, sometimes causing a bad result, in the absence of a  justification or excuse.
A.Elements Of Crimes
1.Generally, the prosecution must prove the following elements
beyond a reasonable doubt.
Be alert to a problem where the evidence fails to prove one of these essential elements!emember" a missing element # not guilty.a.
 Actus Reus
" $he act %
actus
& that produces the criminally prohibited result %
reus
&.%1&$his element may be met by"%a&a voluntary conscious act that causes an unlawful result. 'asiest way to remember" physical act ( volition # legal act. 1&
EXAMPLE:
a&!eflex actions and sleepwalking" lack volition and not legal actsb&)abitual acts conditioned responses %conditioned reaction&" volitional and legal acts.c&*cts performed under duress" volitional act, but duress may end up being defense. +here the defendant causes the criminal harm while sleepwalking, hypnotied, or during an epileptic seiure there is no criminal act and no crime.
EXAMPLE:
 * defendant kills his son by stabbing him after his son surprises him from behind. -efendant claims his act was a conditioned response from his military training and from his experience as a jungle
fighter during +orld +ar . $his evidence is irrelevant because even if his
reaction was a conditioned response, it satisfied the volition re/uirement and is a voluntary act. )ad he killed his son while sleepwalking, or during an epileptic seiure, there would be no voluntary act.%b&an omission to act where defendant is under a legal duty to act satisfies the act re/uirement. omission ( legal duty where the defendant could have acted # act. 1&0ormally, failure to act, even when morally reprehensible, is not a criminal act. )owever, where the law imposes upon a person in the defendants position a duty to act, the failure to act is a criminal act. 2&Look for one of the following legal duties"a&3tatutory duties %a law enforcement officer&b&Legal duty by contract %a life guard&c&3tatus relationship %husband4wife5 parent4child&d&6oluntary undertaking to rescue that is abandoned %telling others to stay back so you can rescue someone, and then abandoning the effort&e&7ailing to help after creating the risk of peril %hit and run&
EXAMPLE:
 0ursing home employees who abandoned elderly residents during '8*9 $:
 
'8*9 $:
 
'8*9 $:
 
 
hurricane ;atrina committed a criminal omission5 however, individuals who drove out of the city with plenty of room for passengers and ignored the pleas for evacuation by others on foot did not commit a criminal omission, even though if it was obvious they were about to be engulfed by rising waters.b.
Mens Rea
 %guilty mind&%1&7or almost all crimes, a defendants guilt will depend upon the culpable state of mind that actuated the criminal act or omission. $his
mens rea
 element of crime is normally defined by statute, and generally falls into one of the following categories"%a&
Purpose
" -efendant acts with the conscious objective to bring about a prohibited result %e.g., shooting at someone with the objective to cause his death&
.
%b&
Knowledge:
-efendant engages in conduct that he knows, with almost absolute certainty, will produce a prohibited result %e.g., - plants a bomb with the purpose of killing one person, but with knowledge it will kill 1< others&.%c&
Intent:
 -efendant acts intentionally when he acts with purpose or knowledge. 7or inchoate offenses, intent almost always means purpose only.%d&
illful:
 +illful is often used as a synonym for intent" * defendant acts willfully when"
a!ting wit" purpose or #nowledge$ and moral turpitude.
%e&
%e!#lessness:
 * defendant acts recklessly when" he is aware that his conduct creates a risk that is unjustifiable, but he ignores that risk and engages in the conduct anyway. 1&!ecklessness is easily understood as, =- knew the risk but didnt care.>2&!ecklessness is distinguished from knowledge because - is aware he is creating a risk, but does not have substantial certainty that the harm produced by the risk will occur. ;nowledge re/uires an almost absolute certainty that a criminal act will occur %f&
Criminal &egligen!e:
 * defendant acts with criminal %sometimes called culpable negligence& when" he created an unjustifiable risk without subjective awareness he is doing so, but where a reasonable person would have realied the risk.1&?riminal negligence re/uires a gross deviation from the normal reasonable standard of care, a deviation greater than that re/uired for civil negligence.2&?riminal negligence is distinguished from recklessness because - was not subjectively aware of the risk creation@A- did not realie he created the risk but he should have because a reasonable person in that situation would have.
 
0$'
 
%2&
Intent
%a&
'pe!ifi! intent ( re)uires proof t"at t"e * intended to produ!e spe!ifi!ally pro"ibited "arm$ and normally in!ludes purpose or #nowledge i.e. lar!eny re)uires spe!ifi! intent to permanently depri+e.
+henever a crime includes the term
,wit" intent to$-
 that is a specific intent element.%b&
eneral intent
 only re/uires a desire or state of mind to do the prohibited act and generally includes reckless or negligent state of mind.
EXAMPLE
" -efendant is charged with *ssault with ntent to ?ommit 9urder. $he state of mind related to committing the assault only is a general intent element %placing the victim in fear of an imminent battery or attempting to commit a battery&. n contrast, the intent to murder the victim is a specific intent element, re/uiring proof that -efendant acted with the purpose of killing his victim when he committed the assault. 3pecific intent may be nullified by an
"onest but unreasonable mista#e of fa!t
, and by voluntary intoxication5 only an
"onest and reasonable mista#e of fa!t
 will nullify general intent.%C&
Mali!e
" 9alice is the essential
mens rea
 element for murder at common law. $here are numerous ways to prove malice.%a&
E/press Mali!e
" is established by proving - intended to kill another human being. ntent to kill is established by proving"1&- acted with purpose to kill5 !2&- acted with knowledge to kill another5 !C&- acted with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm%b&
Implied Mali!e
" is established by proving that the defendant caused a death as the result of extreme reckless or criminally negligent conduct that manifested a wanton disregard for the value of human life.1&mplied malice may be established even where" the killing was unintentional if there was wanton disregard for human life. 2&9alice is also implied for a felony murder conviction, although felony murder will be analyed as a distinct category. !emember, any
unlawful #illing 0 mali!e 1 murder 
, even if the defendant did not set out to kill someone or didnt even expect his conduct would cause death.%D&
'tri!t liability !rimes
 re/uire no
mens rea
" %a&*ct ( !esult # Guilt. %b&*s a result, mistake of fact is never a defense %e.g., for statutory rape, where - mistakenly believes the victim was of legal age&.%E&$ransferred intent" +here the - intends to produce a criminal result against one victim, but instead inadvertently harms another victim, the intent to harm first victim transfers to the other victim.%a&t is not a defense that" you hurt the wrong victimc.
Con!urren!e
" n order to prove guilt, the :rosecution must prove that the act that causes the criminal result was actuated %set in motion& by the re/uisite criminal state of mind. $his is called concurrence.%1&t is not only necessary that" the mens rea %state of mind& and criminal act concur precisely in time. +hat is necessary is that the mental state must actuate the conduct that produces the criminal result.
EXAMPLE:
 ?ommon law burglary is the unlawful breaking and entering of the dwelling of another '8*9 $:
 
'8*9 $:'8*9 $:

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