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4 types of Mens Rea for Murder

Intent to kill
Intent to cause serious bodily harm/injury
Depraved Heart - reckless indifference to the value of human life
Felony Murder - intent to commit unrelated felony is sufficient to meet mens rea requirement of murder


Premeditation - Old and Modern View

Old View - no substantial amount of time need elapse between formation of intent to kill and execution of killing

Modern view - reasonable period of time during which deliberation exists


In order to be convicted for 1st degree murder, what do you need?

substantial evidence must be shown to prove that killing was pre-meditated and deliberate


What is 2nd degree murder?

unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought but without additional evidence such as willfulness, pre-meditation, and deliberation that would support a conviction of 1st degree murder


What is Felony Murder?

if D, while he is in the process of committing a felony, kills another (even accidentally) the killing is murder


Why was felony murder doctrine created?

Deter the use of violence

Commit felony in the least harmful way


What is the agency approach to Felony Murder?

doctrine does not apply if person who directly causes death is a non-felon



How is felony murder and proximate cause related?

A felon can be held responsible in felony murder if felon set in motion acts which results in victim's death


What is Res Gestae

term defining overall start-to-end sequence of underlying felony


How is felony murder and place of temporary safety related?

crime is no longer being perpetrated if actor reaches a place of temporary safety

New felony if/when criminal flees


What is the difference between murder and manslaughter?

homicide which is deemed not sufficiently heinous to be treated as murder, but still too blameworthy to go completely unpunished


What is voluntary manslaughter?

D kills while in an extremely angry or disturbed state

"heat of passion"


What are the elements of voluntary manslaughter

•Must have been an adequate provocation – sufficient to cause a reasonable person to lose control

•Killing must have been in heat of passion

•Killing must have followed the provocation before there was a reasonable opportunity for a “cooling off” period

•Must be a causal connection between the provocation, passion, and fatal act


Can words be an adequate provocation for manslaughter?

Generally, NO!

Court found that words CAN constitute adequate provocation, if they are accompanied by conduct indicating a present intention/ability to cause D bodily harm


What are 3 situations that may mitigate what would normally be murder to manslaughter?

•Discovering one’s spouse in the act of sexual intercourse with another

•Mutual combat

•Assault and battery


What is involuntary manslaughter?

unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence


Is D's awareness of risk always required in order to be liable for manslaughter?



What is Self Defense?

General right to defend oneself against the use of unlawful force


What are the elements of Self Defense?

Resist unlawful force – D must have been resisting present or imminent use of unlawful force

Force must not be excessive – degree of force used by D must not be more than is reasonably necessary to defend against threatened harm

Deadly force – forced used by D may not be deadly unless the danger being resisted was also deadly force

Aggressor – D must not have been the aggressor. Unless – he was a non-deadly aggressor confronted with the unexpected use of deadly force OR withdrew after initial aggression and P continued to attack

Retreat – D must not have been in a position where he could retreat with complete safety. Unless – attack takes place in D’s dwelling or D uses only non-deadly force


Is the right to use self defense available to someone that provoked a conflict?

No - aggressor doctrine


What is the retreat to the wall doctrine?

forbids the use of deadly force when there is an avenue for safe retreat open (majority of states have removed this rule, incl. IL)


What is the castle doctrine?

One who through no fault of his own is attacked in his home is under no duty to retreat

Some jurisdictions extend this to the area around your home (in your yard)


Will a court take into account individual physical attributes when determining self defense doctrine?



What is Defense of Others?

a person may use force to defend another in roughly the same circumstances in which he would be justified in using force in his own defense


What are the requirements to use Defense of Others?

•Danger to other – must reasonably believe that the other person is in imminent danger of unlawful bodily harm

•Degree of Force – degree of force used by D is no greater than that which seems reasonably necessary to prevent the harm

•Belief in another person’s right to use force – D reasonably believes that the party being assisted would have the right to use in his own defense the force that the defendant proposes to use in his assistance


What is the Alter Ego Rule?

D “stands in the shoes” of the person he aids. If the person aided would not have had the right to use that degree of force in his own defense, D’s claim fails


Is an unborn fetus included in defense of others doctrine?



What is Defense of Habitation/Property?

one has a limited right to use force to defend one’s property against a wrongful taking


What are the requirements of Defense of Habitation/Property?

•Reasonable belief that there is an immediate threat of a person entering or attempting to enter in order to commit a violent felony

•Don’t have to use proportionate force


What is the Actus Reus of Sexual Assault?

committing an act of sexual penetration and using force or a threat of force or knowing that the victim is unable to understand the nature of the act or is unable to give knowing consent