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Flashcards in Criminal Law Deck (54):

Actus reus

voluntary/affirmative act or omission/failure to act causing criminally proscribed result


Failure to act when duty exists

imposed by statute; contract; special relationship; detrimental undertaking (leaving victim in worse condition after treatment); causation (creating the peril)


mens rea

guilty mind or legally proscribed mental state (none for strict liability crimes)


Mistake of fact

Negates criminal intent (if honest); defense to specific intent crime even if unreasonable; defense to general/malice crime only if reasonable


Mistake of law

if D relied on court decision/administrative order/official interpretation; statute defining malum prohibitum crime not available before conduct; OR honestly held mistake of law negates the required intent or mental state for material element of crime



person whose acts/omissions are the actus reus of crime; must be actually or constructively present at scene of crime



aid/abets principal prior to/during crime with intent crime be committed (purpose of promoting or facilitating the commission of the offense)


Accomplice liability

response for crime and all natural and probable consequences of accomplice's conduct


Withdrawal as accomplice

(1) repudiate prior aid; (2) do all that is possible to countermand prior assistance; (3) do so before chain of events set in motion and unstoppable


Accessory after the fact

aid/assists felon to avoid apprehension or conviction after felony committed; must know felony was committed; only liable for separate crime



D didn't know the nature/quality of act or wrongfulness of act because of defect due to mental disesase


Irresistible impulse

D lacked capacity for self-control and free choice due to metal disease/defect -- inability to conform conduct to law



unlawful act was product of D's mental disease or defect and would have have been committed but for the disease/defect


MPC insanity

at time of conduct, D lacked substantial capacity to appreciate wrongfulness of act or conform conduct to law as result of mental disease or defect


Voluntary intoxication

intentional taking of known intoxicating substance; defense to specific intent crime if prevents required intent


Involuntary intoxication

taken without knowledge of intoxicating nature or under duress; negates element of crime



unlawful killing of another human being committed with malice aforethought:

(1) intent to kill: conduct that is legal cause of death + intent to kill

(2) intent to do serious bodily injury: serious bodily injury + unintentional killing

(3) reckless indifference to human life: unjustifiably high risk to human life + unintentional killing

unlawful killing of another human being committed with malice aforethought:

(1) intent to kill: conduct that is legal cause of death + intent to kill

(2) intent to do serious bodily injury: serious bodily injury + unintentional killing

(3) reckless indifference to human life: unjustifiably high risk to human life + unintentional killing

(4) felony murder


Felony murder

Unintended and foreseeable killing proximately caused by/during commission or attempted commission of inherently dangerous felony (burglary, arson, robbery, rape, kidnapping); victim must die (no attempted FM); must be guilty of underlying felony (merges with FM)

Includes when one felon kills other co-felon


Redline doctrine

D is not guilty of FM when victim/police officer, acting in self-defense or trying to prevent escape of D/co-felon, kills the co-felon


Death of bystander by victim/police in Felony Murder

Agency theory (majority): felon not liable for death of bystander caused by felony victim/police

Proximate cause theory (minority): if bystander death is direct consequence of felony


First degree murder

deliberate/premeditated (D reflected on idea of killing/planned the killing after forming intent to kill)


Voluntary manslaughter

Murder committed in response to a situation that would inflame a reasonable person to the extent that it would cause person to momentarily act out of passion rather than reason (serious battery, threat of deadly force, adultery, words only not enough); no cooling off period

OR when imperfect self-defense


Involuntary manslaugher

Unintentional homicide committed with criminal negligence (grossly negligent action putting another at significant risk of serious injury/death) or during unlawful act (malum in se misdemeanor)



(1) Trespassory (without owner's consent; can't happen if person was legally entrusted with property); (2) taking (removal of property from owner's possession); (3) carry away (slight movement enough); (4) of personal property; (5) of another; (6) with specific intent to permanently deprive owner of property


Larceny by trick

Obtaining possession of, but not title to, property owned by another through fraud/deceit with intent to convert the property



fraudulent; making; of a false writing; with apparent legal significance; with intent to defraud



fraudulent; conversion (serious interference with owner's rights to property); of property; of another; by person in lawful possession of property


False pretenses

Obtaining title to property; of another person; through reliance of that person; on known false representation of material past/present; made with intent to defraud



larceny; from the person or presence of the victim; by force (more than amount necessary to effectuate taking and carrying away the property) or intimidation (threat of immediate serious physical injury to victim, close family member or other person present)

assault; battery and larceny all merge into robbery



taking of money/property from another by threat (need not be of physical or immediate harm; property need not be on person or in presence of victim)



Breaking; and entering; of dwelling; of another; at nighttime; with specific intent to commit a felony therein



Malicious (reckless disregard that creates substantial risk of burning); burning; of dwelling; of another


Receipt of stolen goods

Receiving control; of stolen property; with knowledge that it is stolen; and intent to permanently deprive owner of property



Unlawful; application of force; to another person; that causes bodily harm to that person or constitutes an offensive touching



Attempt to commit a battery; or intentionally placing another in apprehension of imminent bodily harm

If contact is completed, assault merges into battery



Unlawful; confinement of a person (freedom of movement must be significantly restricted); against that person's will (by force, threats or fraud); movement (needs to be more than necessary for commission of the other crime when kidnapping occurs incident to another crime) OR hiding of that person


False imprisonment

Unlawful; confinement of a person, without consent



Unlawful; sexual intercourse; with a female; against her will by force or threat of immediate force



Enticing, encouraging, or commanding another person; to commit a crime; with intent that the other person commits the crime

solicitation merges into completed crime
(MPC only) Renunciation is a defense if D thwarts commission of solicited crime



An agreement; between two or more persons; to accomplish an unlawful purpose; with intent to accomplish that purpose; overt act in furtherance of conspiracy (majority rule, not CL)


Unilateral conspiracy

May be formed when only one party actually agrees (modern trend and MPC; not recognized under common law)


Pinkerton Rule

Conspirator liable for conspiracy and co-conspirators' substantive crimes in furtherance of conspiracy; (MPC/minority) not liable for such crimes unless aids/abets in commission of crimes


Wharton rule

if a crime requires two or more participants, there is no conspiracy unless more parties than are necessary to complete the crime agree to commit the crime


Withdrawal from conspiracy (liability for conspiracy)

Federal/majority rule: withdrawal possible between date of agreement and commission of overt act but must give notice to co-conspirators or give timely notice to police

MPC/minority rule: subsequent withdrawal OK only if D acts voluntarily to thwart the success of conspiracy

CL: withdrawal not a defense


Withdrawal from conspiracy (liability for substantive crime)

Can limit liability for substantive crimes by withdrawing from the conspiracy at any time after it is formed by giving notice to co-conspirators or timely advising police of existence of conspiracy



Substantial step toward commission of crime (beyond mere preparation) AND specific intent to commit crime

attempt merges into completed crime


Attempt abandonment

CL: cannot abandon after substantial steps are taken

Some states recognize voluntary abandonment but not if motivated by desire to avoid detection


Self defense

one who is not the aggressor is justified in using reasonable force against another person to prevent immediate unlawful harm to himself



No duty to retreat before using non-deadly force, deadly force in home or (majority view) deadly force elsewhere


Defense of property

reasonable steps to protect property; D must believe real property is in immediate danger of unlawful trespass or personal property is in imminent danger of being carried away; force cannot be unreasonably disproportionate to perceived harm; deadly force NOT ok unless to prevent/terminate forcible entry into a dwelling if occupant reasonably believes intruder intends to commit felony within



Third party's unlawful threat caused D to reasonably believe death/harm to himself or another could only be avoided by violating the law

NOT a defense to intentional murder



natural forces of nature caused D to commit what otherwise would be a crime; not defense if D set the natural forces in motion or non-criminal alternative was available



Defense if consent negates required element of crime; or precludes harm sought to be avoided by crime; must be voluntary, no fraud, given by one competent to consent


Continuing trespass rule

If original taking was without consent, yet not unlawful because there was no intent to steal, the original trespass is deemed to be continuing if the intent to steal is later formed and the original taking was wrongful