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Criminal Law Tutoring Session 5

March 30, 2011

Overview

Criminal law system Trial procedure


Defining criminal conduct


Legality Proportionality Actus reus Mens rea Mistake of fact Strict liability Mistake of Law Actus reus Mens rea Reform issues Premeditation Provocation

Unintended killings Felony-murder Death penalty

Evidence basics Burden of proof Advantages Disadvantages Blame Justifications


Juries

Significance of the resulting harm


Causation Attempt Complicity Corporate liability Conspiracy Justifications Excuses Insanity

Issues in punishment

Group culpability

Rape

Retribution Utilitarianism Vengeance

Principles of exculpation

Homicide

Sentencing

Where we are now


Criminal law system Trial procedure


Defining criminal conduct


Legality Proportionality Actus reus Mens rea Mistake of fact Strict liability Mistake of Law Actus reus Mens rea Reform issues Premeditation Provocation

Unintended killings Felony-murder Death penalty

Evidence basics Burden of proof Advantages Disadvantages Blame Justifications


Juries

Significance of the resulting harm


Causation Attempt Complicity Corporate liability Conspiracy Justifications Excuses Insanity

Issues in punishment

Group culpability

Rape

Retribution Utilitarianism Vengeance

Principles of exculpation

Homicide

Sentencing

Homicide: Felony-murder

When a killing occurs during the commission of another felony

D has committed a felony almost certain to cause death Or perhaps to make people more careful in their felonies? Regina v. Serne: Teenager died during arson People v. Stamp: Victim died during bank robbery of a heart attack.

Policy behind it: Deter commission of other felonies

Cases

Think of this like the eggshell skull in Torts. D does not get off the hook just because the victim was prone to heart attacks

Homicide: Felony-murder

In some j/ds, felony-murder acts as proxy for malice In others, it replaces mens rea altogether (This is basically two theories that get at same thing) Most other countries have abolished this Limitations:

Inherently dangerous felony doctrine: Predicate felony must have an element of danger (see People v. Phillips) Merger doctrine: If the murder is part of the predicate felony, can only charge D for one felony. So assault and murder will merge

But see Bruton: armed robbery wasnt a merger felony

Homicide: Felony-murder

Killing must occur in furtherance of the felony

So if killing occurs:

After felony is completed Or is not connected to the felony Or is done by someone opposing the felony (State v. Canola: A victim shot the co-felon and was not guilty of murder)

Then its not felony-murder

Death Penalty

In most states that have the death penalty, only murder is a capital crime Must be unanimous verdict by a jury of 12 Bifurcated trials: The conviction and the sentencing are separate

Death Penalty

Furman v. Georgia: The case that invalidated the death penalty (for a while)

There must be some process to determine a sentence of death Either:


Guided decision framework Or mandatory death sentence for certain grades of crime

Gregg v. Georgia: An example of a sentencing scheme that passed muster


Court deferred to the GA legislature: They were responsive to the will of the people Plurality of justices said that death penalty was not offensive to human dignity

Death Penalty

Common scheme: Aggravating factors that must be present to find a death sentence

Murder of a govt officer/police officer Murder incidental to a kidnapping Defendant incarcerated at time of murder (or previously committed certain felony) Explosive or incendiary device Murder motivated by race, etc. Murder of child under 12 Murder committed while escaping from custody Murder for pecuniary gain Murder done in heinous, cruel or depraved manner. Its a catch-all almost always argued in sentencing

Death Penalty

And D can present mitigating factors in response


Age of the D Impairment short of an elemental defense Drug or alcohol influence Duress short of a defense D was a minor participant in a group crime D had a mistaken belief in some sort of justification Emotional state was impaired short of a defense Absence of a prior record Lack of foreseeability (killed someone under circumstances that suggest objectively they shouldnt have died) D not a continued threat to society Any other evidence relevant to mitigation

Death Penalty

U.S. Supreme Court cases: Roper v. Simmons: No death penalty for juveniles Atkins v.Virginia: No death penalty for the mentally disabled McCleskey v. Kemp: Must meet equal protection standards (Court ruled that GA showed no discriminatory purpose)

Causation

Need to show a link between the Ds conduct and the result Cases in the CB are the hard ones:

Acosta: Helicopter chase led to crash, death. Court found causation. Arzon: There were 2 fires, one started by D. Court found causation because the firemen wouldnt have been in the building at all if D hadnt started fire, so didnt matter which fire killed them. Warner-Lambert: Explosion in gum factory. Court rejected tortlike theory of causation.

Causation

D can be held culpable for events resulting from criminal act

State v. Shabazz: D still liable for death from wounds even though victim got bad medical treatment

But D not liable if another human intervenes to cause death


People v. Campbell: D not liable for giving depressed friend gun, even though that was morally wrong But People v. Kevorkian: Hooking up the suicide apparatus was going too far And another but Stephenson v. State. The victim committed suicide, but shed been tortured. Court said the causal chain was unbroken.

Causation

Courts sometimes find causation for actions that recklessly risk a result

Commonwealth v. Root: Drag racing crash. Court found that while conduct was reckless, there was no causation. But: State v. McFadden. Court found causation in another drag racing case where Ds friend hit a six-year-old. Commonwealth v. Atencio: Friends were egging on game of Russian roulette. Court affirmed manslaughter conviction because the friends didnt have to join in.

Hypothetical: Actus Reus

Bob, a 1L, went to the Dark Horse and hung his jacket on one of the hooks on the wall. On the way out, he grabbed a similar jacket that, unknown to him, had a pocket full of marijuana. An on-duty police officer sees Bob pull out a handful of weed and arrests him for drug possession. Assume that this is a strict-liability crime in Boulder. Is Bob voluntarily possessing drugs?

(E&E p. 43)

Hypothetical: Mens Rea

Helen, a burglar, has decided to burglarize a warehouse. She cases the joint for three weeks and sees everyone leave by 10 p.m. At 2 a.m., she breaks in. When she jumps through the window, Helen lands on Harry, a homeless person who she did not know was sleeping in the warehouse. Harry dies. Has Helen acted.

Purposefully? Knowingly? Recklessly? Negligently? Is Helen liable under felony-murder?

(E&E p. 74)

Hypothetical: Mistake

Jenny kills a bald eagle. She was under the belief that she killed a homing pigeon. Jenny is prosecuted under a statute that makes it a crime to knowingly kill a bald eagle. Guilty? Same facts as above, except the statute omits the word knowingly.

(E&E p. 96)

Hypothetical: Murder

John is aware that he is drunk, but decides to drive home anyway. He collides head-on with another car, killing its occupants. Of what level of murder, if any, is John guilty? Archie and Edith fight constantly about Archies golfing. One day, in the middle of a fight, Archie pulls a five-iron out of his bag and hits Edith in the head. She dies instantly. Is this first-degree murder?

(E&E p. 156)

Hypothetical: Rape

Jane and Tom meet at a bar. Jane willingly goes back to Toms apartment, but she tells Tom she does not want to have sex with him. Tom pulls a knife on Jane and forces her. Rape? Same facts as above, but Tom doesnt pull the knife. Same facts as above, but Jane doesnt say no. Tom still pulls the knife.

Coming up

Next office hours: Wednesday, April 6, 11 a.m. in the caf Next (and last) tutoring session: Wednesday, April 13, 11 a.m. room 206 E-mail: janna.fischer@colorado.edu