Flashcards in Criminal Law Deck (24):
A group of people chosen at random that sits on a regular basis to hear evidence brought by a prosecutor. The prosecutor presents evidence against a person that he or she thinks will justify an indictment (formal charges) and a trial. meet in secret, need not reach unanimous decisions, and do not decide on a person's guilt or evidence (they only decide whether the person should stand trial)
French for "to speak the truth," this is the questioning in court of prospective jurors by a judge or attorneys. The purpose is to determine if any juror is biased or cannot deal with the issues fairly, or if there is cause not to allow a juror to serve (such as knowledge of the facts or acquaintance with the parties or witnesses).
A willful or intentional state of mind, in which the actor intends to bring about an injury or wrongdoing. 1) In criminal law, malice can be evident by the act itself, as when someone purposefully injures someone else. Murder requires proof of malicious intent, and first-degree murder requires "malice aforethought." 2) In a defamation lawsuit (libel or slander), the jury's finding that the defendant acted with malice may increase the plaintiff's damages.
The state of mind necessary to prove first-degree murder. The prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to cause death or great bodily harm, or exhibited extreme and reckless indifference to the value of life. Any intentional killing that does not involve justification, excuse, or mitigation is a killing with?
Sufficiently responsible for criminal acts or negligence to be at fault and liable for the conduct.
prohibits legislatures from enacting laws that punish conduct that was lawful at time of commission or increasing punishment for acts committed before law took effect. Applies to state and federal legislatures, not judiciary.
Ex Post Facto Clause
happens when jury decides state or government has proved BRD but for reasons of conscience, jury disregards facts and/or law and acquits defendant.
Jury has raw power to nullify not right.
No crime without preexistent law, no punishment without preexistent law
Most basic principal of American Law
judicial crime creation no longer authorized (judge cant make crimes)
Principal of Legality
Requirement of fair notice that specific conduct = criminal offense applies to judiciary through 5th and 14th Amendments’ due process clauses. Courts cannot create an offense by enlarging a statute, inserting or deleting words, or by giving terms in the statute false or unusual meanings.
Due Process Clause
Criminal statute must provide person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of what is prohibited.
Perfect clarity not required. At root, fairness. Due process not violated unless law-abiding person would still have to guess as to statute's meaning after attorney conducts research.
(Due Process Clause)
Criminal statutes should not be so broadly worded that they become susceptible to discriminatory enforcement by police
Supreme Court – Statutes must establish minimal guidelines to govern law enforcement
Due process prohibits enforcement of statute so vague that it gives almost complete discretion to police
avoiding undue enforcement discretion (Due Process Clause)
When statute clear, no judicial construction, courts must give plain meaning
When statute unclear, court must ascertain legislative intent (phraseology, purpose, punctuation)
If still uncertain, rule of lenity
strict statutory construction (Due Process Clause)
when criminal statute subject to conflicting reasonable interpretations, statute (including sentencing) interpreted in favor of defendant. (Prevents courts from enlarging scope.)
US Supreme Court strictly construes lenity principle – only applies when statute is ambiguous. Statute not ambiguous unless can make no more than a guess as to what Congress intended. Apply principle only if two or more equally reasonable interpretations of statutes. Some American jurisdictions abolished rule of lenity.
Rule of Lenity
Physical or external component of crime
Two components - Prosecution must prove both
Voluntary act or (rarely) legal omission of act
a willed muscular contraction or bodily movement by the actor (slightest movement suffices)
phenomena not voluntary acts: (1) reflex or convulsion, (2) bodily movement during unconsciousness or sleep, 3) conduct during hypnosis, 4) general catchall provision
Genaral Rule(common law) - person not guilty of crime for failure to act even if failure permits harm to occur to another even if person could've acted at no risk to self.
parent/child, spousal, employer/employee
babysitter implied contract to protect child, lifeguard to protect swimmers
-Contractual obligations are enforceable in civil actions as well as under criminal law
-Voluntary assumption of duty
One has voluntarily assumed care of another and so secluded helpless person as to prevent others from rendering aid
Alternatively, person voluntarily aids another in jeopardy and if person stops assisting would put other in worse position than if had never initiated help
One creates risk of harm to another
Predicates to duty to act (has a duty but cant act)
-Must be aware of need to act or be reckless or negligent regarding need to act
Must have the physical ability to perform required duty
Exceptions to Gen rule of Omission
Destruction/injury/endangerment of socially valuable interest
Criminal law punishes conduct/omissions that result in social harm
Social harm is what makes culprit need to be deterred or deserve retribution
With crime, victim and community are harmed
Mental/Interanal component of crime
Defendant commits the social harm of offense intentionally if:
Defendant's conscious object was to cause result, or
Defendant knew harm was virtually certain to occur as a result of Defendant's conduct.
Intent pertains to social harm, not act that causes the result.
Common Law Intent
A person acts _______ with respect to a material element of an offense when:
if the element involves the nature of his conduct or a result thereof, it is his conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a result; and
if the element involves the attendant circumstances, he is aware of the existence of such circumstances or he believes or hopes that they exist.
A person acts _________ with respect to a material element of an offense when:
if the element involves the nature of his conduct or the attendant circumstances, he is aware that his conduct is of that nature or that such circumstances exist; and
if the element involves a result of his conduct, he is aware that it is practically certain that his conduct will cause such a result.
A person acts ___________ with respect to a material element of an offense when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists or will result from his conduct. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that, considering the nature and purpose of the actor's conduct and the circumstances known to him, its disregard involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a law-abiding person would observe in the actor's situation.