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Principle of legality every crime Rule of lenity Statutes should be

must be defined by a statute or CL interpreted in favor of D as far as it

in advance of conduct charged. may reasonably permit.
Was a Crime Committed? Statutory Interpretation when a
1. absence of statute (prin. of statute is less than fully clear, cts.
legality) resort to techniques to try to
2. If statute, argue statute is vague construct legislative intent
Vagueness statute is vague if - Search for original intent:
men of common ord. intelligence Inquire into what the legislature
must necessarily guess at meaning intended, what legislation at time
and differ in its application law was enacted would have
3. If there is no vagueness, use wanted the statute to mean.
rules of stat. construction to argue - Common law background, read
statute doesnt reach your client. CL language into statute
4. Voluntariness requirement: no - Examine legislative history for
exercise of clients will (no mens clues to legislatures intentions for
rea) passing the statute
5. Omissions client didnt act, -Harmonizing w/ other statutes
they omitted and there was no legal
duty to act Voluntary act requirement
6. no causation liability has to rest on conduct w/ at
least one voluntary act, bodily
Vagueness considerations movement done/not done as an
-How important is the law exercise of will.
enforcement need? More important,
then less likely to be found vague. Omission To be prosecuted based
-How seriously does this statute on omission, must be accompanied
threaten exercise of civil liberties? by CL or statutory duty to act. In
-Is there more precise language CL, duties include personal rel.,
readily available? creation of peril, K, voluntary
assumption of care, control conduct
Mens rea of others (ex. employer over
Specific intent subjective std., employee), landowner status.
requires showing D possessed
certain state of mind when Causation Actual and proximate
committing crime cause of Ds vol. conduct required
General intent (most CL juris.) to show criminally liable.
objective std., what the reasonable Mens rea in MPC 2.02
person in Ds situation should have For every material element (conduct, circumstance or
been aware of and acted. result), one of 4 culpability levels must be shown:
-Purpose w/ desire or conscious object when
Mistake of fact (CL) D claim modifying conduct or result, w/ awareness or belief
that he/she lacked mens rea, when modifying circumstances
misunderstood some pertinent fact -Knowledge: risk needs to be virtually certain
about world -Recklessness: conscious disregard for a substantial
When showing gen. intent, must and unjustifiable risk that material element [ex. death,
show mistake was reasonable injury] exists
When showing specific intent, must Disregard involves gross departure from std of conduct
show made in good faith (honestly) law-abiding person would do in situation
Mistake of fact (MPC) Negligence: should have been aware of a substantial
Hierarchial; when element of and unjustifiable risk that the material element would
offense req. showing of P/K, any result.
reckless, negligent or reas. mistake Culpability levels are on continuum of obj. to subj.:
will exculpate D, etc. negligence objective, recklessness more subj.
MPC 2.02 (4) addresses scope of MPC 2.02 (3): Recklessness default if no other indic.
culp. req., any single culp. term in given in statute (read as requiring recklessness shown
a statute applies to all elements of as to each element
statute, unless a contrary purpose MPC 2.02(5) establishes hierarchy among culp. lvls.
plainly appears [look at grammar]. If can satisfy higher culpability, can establish lower
Murder (CL) 4 categories of
homicide committed with malice
(1) where D intended to kill or
knew that death would result
(2) where D intended to inflict GBI
(3) D manifested extreme
recklessness w/ respect to life
(4) homicides resulting when D
was committing a felony (felony
States usually say 1st degree
displays an intent/purpose to kill
(wilful), a design to kill
(premeditation) and coolness and
reflection (deliberation). 2nd degree
= everything else
Intention to inflict GBI (or
knowledge that conduct will result
in GBI) suffices to estab. murder.
Murder (MPC)
(1) purposely or knowingly
causing death of another; or
(2) recklessly causing death under
circum. manifesting extreme indiff.
to human life.
MPC does NOT recognize as
category of murder where only
GBI intended and death results
(usually held to lesser form of
homicide, ex. manslaughter)