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Flashcards in Crim Law Deck (80):

US Jurisdiction

Crimes that occur...

1. Anywhere in the US Territory;
2. On ships and planes; and
3. By US nationals abroad.


State Jurisdiction

Crimes having some connection to the state.

-Whole/part of crime committed inside the state
-Conduct outside the state that involved an attempt to commit a crime inside the state
-A conspiracy to commit a crime and an overt act occurred within the state


Actus Reus

No such thing as a "thought" crime

1) Must be some physical act in the world (can be speech)
2) Act must be voluntary (have motor control over it)
3) Act can be an omission (failure to act)


Omission as Actus Reus

1. Failure to comply with statutory duty
2. Failure to act when there is a special relationship between defendant and victim
3. Voluntary assumption of duty of care that is cast aside
4. Defendant causes peril and fails to prevent the victim from being injured by the peril


Categories of Specific Intent Crimes

1. First-Degree Murder;
2. Inchoate (conspiracy, attempt, solicitation);
3. Assault with attempt to commit a battery
4. Theft offenses (larceny, embezzlement, forgery, burglary, robbery)


Mens Rea States of Mind

Specific Intent
General Intent
Strict Liability


Specific Intent

The defendant not only committed the actus reus, be did it for causing a specific result.



The defendant acted in a reckless disregard of a high risk of harm occurring.

Murder and Arson


General Intent

The defendant intended to commit the act that was in fact unlawful. (need not be aware of legal ramifications)

MPC: Generally, acts that are done knowingly recklessly, or negligently
e.g. Homicide other than murder, battery, and rape


Strict Liability

The defendant does not need to have a particular state of mine. Must have only voluntarily committed the act.


Transferred Intent Doctrine

When a defendant has the requisite mens rea for committing a crime against one victim but actually commits the crime against a different victim, the specific intent that the defendant had for the first victim transfers to the second victim.


Vicarious Liability

Holds a person liable for an actus reus committed by someone else. (both can be held liable)

A corporation can be liable for the actions of its high-level employees or the Board of Directors.

MPC: requires a specific duty imposed by law on the corporation, or that high-level officials have authorized or tolerated the act.



A defendant can be convicted of more than one crime arising out of the same act.

A defendant cannot be convicted of two crimes when the two crimes merge into one.

1) Lesser included offenses; and
2) The merger of inchoate and a completed offense


Inchoate and Completed Offenses

Attempt: the inchoate offense of attempt merges into the complete offense if the defendant actually commits the crime

Solicitation: merges into the completed offense

Conspiracy: never merges with substantive offenses


Common Law Age Distinctions

Under Age 7: never capable of committing a crime

Ages 7-14: rebuttably presumed to be incapable of committing crimes

Ages 14+: can be charged as adults



Defendants whose acts ror omissions form the actus reus of the crime



People who assist the principal either before or during the commission of a crime
- must act with the intent of assisting the principal to commit the crime

Liable for both the planned crime and any other crimes that occur in the course of the criminal act, as long as they are foreseeable

Can be held liable even if the principals can't be convicted
- EXCEPTION: a person protected by a statute cannot be convicted as an accomplice in violating the statute


Accessories After the Fact

People who assist the defendant only after the crime has been committed

Guilty of a separate offense


Aiders/Abettors and Conspiracy

Individuals who aid or abet a defendant to commit a crime may also be guilty of the separate crime of conspiracy if there was an agreement to commit the crime and an overt act was taken in furtherance of that agreement


Negating Mens Rea: Categories






A defendant claims that come mistake - regarding either the facts in the world or the state of the law - negates his mens rea and thus he cannot be convicted of a crime even though he committed the actus reus


Mistakes of Law

Defendant claims that he cannot be convicted because he thought the law was different that what it was.

Generally NO EXCUSE, unless:

1) Reliance on high-level government interpretations
2) Lack of notice
3) The mistake goes to an element of specific intent


Mistakes of Fact

Specific Intent: Defense any time the defendant actually held the mistaken belief (reasonable or not)

General Intent: Defense only if the mistake is reasonable and goes to criminal intent

Strict Liability: Never a defense


Insanity Tests

1. M'Naghten
2. Irresistible Impulse
3. Durham
4. MPC



Defendant either did not know the nature of the act or did not know that the act was wrong


Irresistible Impulse

Defendant has a mental disease or defect that means he cannot control himself



Defendant would not have committed the crime but-for his having a mental disease or defect

Defendant-friendly; rarely used


MPC Insanity

Due to a mental disease or defect, defendant did not have the mental capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his acts or to conform his conduct to the law


Involuntary Intoxication

Can be a valid defense to all but strict liability when mens rea is negated

Occurs when a person:
1. Doesn't realize that she received an intoxicating substance
2. Is forced or coerced into ingesting a substance; or
3. Has an unexpected or unanticipated reaction to a prescription medication


Voluntary Intoxication

When a person intentionally ingests a substance knowing it was an intoxicant

Is a defense only to specific intent crimes, and only if it prevented the defendant from forming the mens res


Common-Law Conspiracy

1. An agreement;
2. Between two or more people
3. To commit an unlawful act


Modern Conspiracy Statutes

Requires an overt act

Only the defendant who actually has been charged must actually agree to commit the unlawful act


Purpose of Conspiracy

If what the conspirators agree to do is not a crime, there is no conspiracy even if they think what they are doing is wrong


Conspiracy Overt Act

Cn be lawful or unlawful as long as it furthers the conspiracy


Scope of a Conspiracy

At common law, each co-conspirator can be convicted both of:
1) Conspiracy; and
2) All substantive crimes committed by any other conspirator acting in furtherance of the conspiracy


Structure of Co-conspirators

Chain Conspiracy:
A number of steps in a narrative chain
Each participant liable for the substantive crimes of his co-conspirators

Spoke-Hub Conspiracy:
Central person dealing with many people on the periphery
Central person liable for all crimes
Each of spokes is treated as a separate crime and is not liable for the crimes committed by the other spokes


Withdrawal from a Conspiracy

Common Law: Impossible because crime is completed the moment the agreement is made

Federal Rule: Can withdraw prior to commission of any overt act by communicating intention to withdraw to all other conspirators or by informing law enforcement

MPC: A conspirator who helps thwart the success of a conspiracy can raise a withdrawal defense even after the overt act has occurred.

A defendant who tries to withdraw may remain liable for conspiracy if notification is not timely, but will not be liable for any substantive crimes committed after his withdrawal.



1. Specific intent to commit a particular criminal act; and
2. Taking a substantial step towards perpetrating the crime


Attempt Defenses

All specific-intent defenses

Includes voluntary intoxication and reasonable mistake of fact


Attempt Merger

Attempt merges into a completed offense

Cannot be convicted of attempt and the completed crime



Occurs when an individual intentionally invites, requests, or commands another person to commit a crime

If the person agrees: conspiracy

If the person commits the offense: solicitation will merge into the completed offense



The killing of a living human being by another human being

Must be causation between the defendant's actions and what happened to the victim.

Actual Causation: Victim would not have died "but-for" what the defendant did

Proximate Causation: The act the defendant committed foreseeably caused the victim's death


Types of Homicide

1. First-degree murder;
2. Common-law murder; and
3. Manslaughter


First-Degree Murder

Statutorily created category that is premeditated and deliberate, and defendant must have the specific intent to kill the victim.

A murder is premeditated if the defendant had enough time to reflect on the idea of, or plan the killing.

Deliberate means the defendant made the decision to kill in a cool and dispassionate manner


Common-Law Murder

The unlawful killing of another human being committed with malice aforethought


Four Kinds of Malice Aforethought

1. Intent to Kill
2. Intent to Inflict Serious Bodily Harm
3. Abandoned or Malignant Heart
4. Felony Murder


Intent to Kill

The defendant acted with the desire that the victim end up dead.

Need not be premeditated. Can be formed in a second


Intent to Inflict Serious Bodily Harm

The defendant intended to hurt the victim badly, and the victim died


Abandoned or Malignant Heart

The defendant acted with a cavalier disregard for human life and a death resulted.

The defendant must realize that his conduct is really risky but need to have any intent regarding the outcome of his actions.


Felony Murder

A death occurred during the commission or attempted commission of a dangerous felony (Burglary, Arson, Rape, Robbery, Kidnapping)

Can involve:
- Someone who resists the felony
- Bystander killed during a felony
- Third person killed by the resister or police officers (Exception: "Agency" Theory)

Not guilty of felony murder f co-felon is killed by a resister or a police officer



All unlawful killings of another human being that aren't first-degree murders or common-law murder

Voluntary and Involuntary


Voluntary Manslaughter

Occurs when a defendant does not intend to kill the victim, but acted in the "heat of passion" or "under extreme emotional disturbance"

- where most people would act without thinking
- no time to cool off


Involuntary Manslaughter

A criminally negligent killing or killing of someone while committing a crime other than those covered by felony murder.



Taking; Another person's property; without his consent, and; with the intent to deprive him of it permanently.

Personal property
Any moving, however slight
Consent not by force or fraud

Specific intent crime



A variation of larceny where the defendant starts out having the victim's consent to have the property but converts the property to his own use


False Pretenses

A variation of larceny where the defendant obtains TITLE to someone else's property through an act of deception


Larceny: MPC and other Modern Changes

Under the MPC and in many jurisdictions, crimes such as larceny, false pretenses, and embezzlement are treated as a single statutory crime of theft, which includes both tangible and intangible property



Taking; another person's property; without his consent; with intent to deprive him of it permanently; AND

The taking occurs from the victim's person or in his presence; and either by physical violence or putting the victim in fear of imminent physical harm



A variation of robbery that involves threats of future harm (including non-physical harm), rather than threats of imminent physical harm


Common-Law Burglary

Breaking and;
The dwelling;
Of another;
At night;
With the specific intent to commit a felony once inside


Modern Law Burglary

Breaking and;
The property;
Of another;
With the specific intent to commit a felony inside


Burglary Elements

Breaking: pushing open or obtaining entry by fraud

Entering: breaking the plane of the dwelling

Dwelling: place where people regularly lived

Of another: cannot burglarize yourself



Application of force;
To another person;
That causes bodily harm OR constitutes an offensive touching


Battery Elements

Unlawful: unconsented

Application of force: Even the slightest touch in some cases. Does not require actual physical connection between defendant and the victim

General intent crime: Voluntary intoxication and unreasonabe mistake of fact are not defenses



1. Attempted Battery: defendant has taken a substantial step toward completing a battery but fails (specific intent crime)

2. Intentionally placing another in fear or imminent bodily harm (general intent)


Common-Law Rape

Sexual intercourse;
With a female;
Against her will by force or threat of force.

General intent crime


Modern Day Rape Statutes

Does not have to involve a woman

Can occur without threat of force

Can involve activity other than sexual intercourse


Statutory Rape

Sexual intercourse with a person under age

Strict liability, mistake of fact is irrelevant



Confinement of another person;
Against that person's will;
Either by moving or hiding the victim


Common-Law Arson

Of another person's;


Arson Elements

Malice: intent to act in a way that will cause burning or is substantially likely to do so

Burning: not just an explosion or smoke damage. damage to structure, not just the contents inside (Modern: do not need damage to structure, may be caused by explosion)

Dwelling: not a commercial structure (Modern: may be commercial)



Willful act of falsely promising to tell the truth, stating something false either verbally or in writing, about material matters


Subornation of Perjury

When you pay someone to testify falsely



Common law: corrupt payment of something of value for purposes of influencing an official in the discharge of his official duties

Modern law: allows bribery to be prosecuted even if the person being bribed isn't a public official



Nondeadly force: may be used anytime a victim reasonably fears an imminent unlawful harm

Deadly force: A victim is entitled to use deadly force only if he reasonably believes that deadly force will be used against him (MPC: can use if reasonably believes the crime involved could result in serious bodily injury)



Majority: Not required

Minority: Must retreat if safe to do so, other than using deadly force

Retreat is never required when the person employing deadly force is in his own home


Defense of Others

An individual has the same right to defend other individuals agains a criminal that she has to defend herself


Defense of Property

Can use only non-deadly force to protect property

Cannot use deadly force to protect property alone



The defendant claims he only committed a crime because he was threatened by a third party and reasonably believed that the only way to avoid death or injury to himself or others was to commit the crime (death or serious bodily harm must be threatened)

Defense for all crimes other than intentional murder



Available in response to natural forces when it is the lesser of two evils.