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Flashcards in Fundamental Elements Deck (63):
1

Deterrence

Goal of criminal law: the prevention of criminal behavior by fear of punishment

2

EX POST FACTO LAW

Law that operates retroactively to:
1. Make criminal an act that when done was not criminal
2. Aggravate a crime or increase the punishment thereof
3. Change the rules of evidence to the detriment of criminal defendants as a class OR
4. Alter the law of criminal procedure to deprive criminal defendants of a substantive
right
**Abandoning common law precedent does not violate due process or constitute an ex post factor law**

3

Retribution

Goal of criminal law: punishment imposed as repayment or revenge for the offense committed; requital.

4

Culpability

= Blameworthiness
- Except in cases of absolute liability, criminal culpability requires a showing that
1. the person acted purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently
2. with respect to each material element of the offense

5

REHABILITATION

Goal of criminal law: process of seeking to improve a criminal’s character and outlook so that he or she can function in society without committing other crimes.

6

Legality Principle

- Statutes should be understandable
- Statutes should be narrowly construed for benefit of the accused
- Statutes should be narrowly construed so as not to give unbridled discretion to law enforcement

7

Constitutional Limitations on Criminalization

1. No ex post facto laws
2. No bills of attainder (inflicting punishment without trial)

8

Elements of Crime

1. Voluntary act or omission = actus reus
2. Culpable mental state = mens rea
3. Harmful outcome to a person or society = harm
4. Caused by the actus reus = causation

9

Felony

- Any crime with statutory punishment of a year or more
- Malum in se

10

Malum in se

bad in itself

11

Malum prohibitum

bad because government says so (for the betterment of society)

12

Misdemeanor

- any crime that isn’t a felony (statutory punishment is less than year)
- Malum prohibitum

13

Modern Approach to Sentencing

- Combines rehabilitation and retribution, based on severity of crime
- Most states use sentencing grid

14

Evolution of Sentencing

- Originally was proportional and retributive
- Evolved toward utilitarianism
- Produced indeterminate sentences (range of possible sentences)

15

Actus Reus

- Guilty act
- A physical act or omission by the defendant

16

Mens Rea

(AKA Guilty mind, scienter, intent)
- The state of mind or intent of the defendant at the time of his act

17

Concurrence

The physical act and the mental state existed at the same time

18

Harmful Result and Causation

Harmful result caused (both factually and proximately) by D's act

19

Actus Reus

1. Voluntary
2. Harmful
3. Can be omission/failure to act
4. Can be possession

20

Voluntary

Conscious exercise of the will

21

Not voluntary

1. Conduct not the product of actor’s determination (ex. being shoved and hitting another person)
2. Reflexive or convulsive acts
3. Acts performed while D was either unconscious or asleep (unless the defendant knew that she might fall asleep or be unconscious and engaged in dangerous behavior)

22

When is omission criminal?

Failure to act is only criminal when
1. Legal duty to act
2. Knowledge of facts giving rise to duty
3. Reasonably possible to perform

23

5 Sources of Legal Duty to Act

1. statute
2. contract
3. special relationship
4. voluntary assumption of care
5. creation of peril

24

Automatism

- Involuntary defense, not insanity
- But if put on notice of condition and acting to increase susceptibility to conditions, then = voluntary

25

Status Crimes

- A crime of which a person is guilty by being in a certain condition or of a specific character
- CANNOT BE CRIMINALIZED

26

4 Types of Possession

1. Actual possession
2. Constructive possession
3. Joint possession
4. Exclusive possession

27

Constructive possession

Control or dominion over a property without actual possession or custody of it

28

Purpose of Mens Rea

Distinguish crimes from accidents

29

Specific Intent Crimes (Requirement)

Requires not only the doing of an act, but the doing of it with specific intent or objective

30

Specific Intent Crimes (Types)

1. Solicitation
2. Attempt
3. Conspiracy
4. First degree premeditated murder (where so defined by statute)
5. Assault
6. Larceny and robbery
7. Burglary
8. Forgery
9. False pretenses
10. Embezzlement

31

Mens Rea @ Common Law

- Where D purposely caused, or it was his conscious object to cause, harm OR
- D acts with knowledge that social harm is virtually certain to occur as a result of his act

32

Malice Crimes

- Common law murder and arson
- Not open to specific intent defenses
= D recklessly disregarded an obvious or high risk that particular harmful result would occur

33

4 Types of Intent

1. Specific Intent
2. Malice
3. General Intent
4. Strict Liability

34

General Intent

= awareness of all factors constituting the crime
- All crimes require general intent
- Allows inference of intent from act

35

Strict Liability Offenses

- Does not require awareness of all of the factors constituting the crime
- State of mind is abandoned with respect to one or some of elements
- Defenses that would negate state of mind (ex. mistake of fact) = not available
- AKA Public Welfare Offenses (generally regulatory)

36

Mental State - MPC

1. Purposely (Intentionally)
2. Knowingly
3. Recklessly
4. Negligently

37

MPC - Purposely/Knowingly/Recklessly

Subjective standard = what was actually going on in D's mind

38

MPC - Purposely

(Intentionally)
Conscious object to engage in certain conduct or achieve a certain result

39

MPC - Knowingly

VIRTUALLY CERTAIN conduct will lead to PARTICULAR RESULT or
VERY AWARE of likely consequences

40

MPC - Recklessly

1. CONSCIOUS DISREGARD of SUBSTANTIAL/UNJUSTIFIABLE RISK that certain circumstances exist or that a prohibited result will follow
2. Which constitutes GROSS DEVIATION FROM SOC OF REASONABLE PERSON

41

MPC - Negligence

1. FAILURE TO BE AWARE OF SUBSTANTIAL/UNJUSTIFIABLE RISK that circumstances exist/result will follow
2. Such failure constitutes a SUBSTANTIAL DEVIATION FROM SOC OF REASONABLE PERSON

42

Holdridge Test

Allows conviction without intent when
1. penalty is relative small
2. conviction does not gravely besmirch
3. known at common law (not merely regulatory)

43

MPC Culpability (3 Key Takeaways)

- State of mind applies to all material elements of offense
- Default state of mind = recklessness
- Higher degree satisfies all lower states of mind

44

Transferred Intent Elements

1. D intended harmful result to particular person or object
2. In trying to carry out that intent
3. Caused similar harmful result to another person or object
= Intent will be transferred from the intended person/object to one actually harmed

45

Transferred Intent Exception

Attempt

46

Transferred Intent Examples

Most commonly applies to
1. Homicide
2. Battery
3. Arson

47

Concurrence of Mental Fault with Physical Act

REQUIRED
- D must have had intent necessary for the crime @ time he committed the act
- Intent must have prompted the act

48

Causation - General Requirement

D's conduct must be both:
1. Cause-in-fact AND
2. Proximate cause

49

Cause-in-fact

(But-for test)
Result would not have occurred BUT FOR D's conduct

50

“Year and a Day” Rule

- Common Law Requirement
- Must occur within one year and one day from infliction of injury
- If not = no liability
- Must states have abolished

51

Proximate Causation Problems

Arise only when the victim’s death occurs because of the defendant’s acts, but in a manner not intended or anticipated by the defendant

52

Proximate Causation Inquiry

Whether the difference in the way death was intended or anticipated and the way in which it actually occurred breaks the chain of “proximate cause” causation

53

Natural and Probable Result (Proximate Causation)

General rule =
1. D is responsible for all results that occur
2. as a natural and probable consequence of his conduct
3. even if he did not anticipate the precise manner in which they would occur
4. BROKEN only by intervention of a superseding factor

54

Rules of Causation

1. Hastening Inevitable Result
2. Simultaneous Acts
3. Preexisting Condition

55

Hastening Inevitable Result

Act that hastens an inevitable result = still legal cause of that result (ex. killing a dying person)

56

Simultaneous Acts

May be considered independently sufficient causes of a single result

57

Preexisting Condition

A victim’s preexisting condition that makes him more susceptible to death does not
break the chain of causation (D takes victim as he finds him)

58

Intervening Acts

General rule = will shield D from liability if
- Act is a mere coincidence OR
- Is outside the foreseeable sphere of risk created by D's act

59

Examples of Intervening Acts

1. Act of Nature = will suffice to break causal chain
2. Act by Third Party = will not suffice unless gross negligence or intentional mistreatment
3. Acts by Victim = majority says will not suffice

60

Mistakes of Fact and Law (as Defense to Mens Rea)

- Less concern about distinction between
- Either one can work IF result = mistake negates culpability
- Mistake of law is further limited by policy

61

Mistake of Law Policy Limitations

Generally not a defense unless:
1. Statute is not well known
2. Reasonable reliance on official interpretation
3. Mistaken application of understanding of law

62

MPC - Causation

Replaces causation with culpability

63

MPC - Culpability (Causation)

Whether harm was too remote or accidental to hold D responsible