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Flashcards in Homicide & Strict Liability Deck (29):

rules authorizing conviction of morally innocent person for offense even though crime requires proof of mens rea.

Strict liability doctrines


crimes do not contain mens rea requirement regarding one or more elements of actus reus

Strict liability crimes


-statutory crime not derived from common law
-legislative policy would be undermined by mens rea requirement
-standard imposed is reasonable and adherence could be expected
-penalty is small
-conviction doesn't "gravely besmirch"

Factors (Holdridge v. United States) to overcome presumption against:


malum prohibitum (wrong because prohibited)
Legislatures enacted laws with no express mens rea requirement
Examples = antipollution environmental laws, traffic violations

Public Welfare Offenses


offenses are strict liability; don't require proof defendant possessed mens rea regarding material element
Example (statutory rape) "consensual intercourse by a male with underage female". No mens rea element regarding defendant's knowledge of underage status (attendant circumstance). He has knowledge of conduct element of sex.

Non-Public Welfare Offenses


§2.02 – subject to one exception, no conviction unless mens rea for each material element.
§2.05 (one exception). Mens rea requirement need not apply to offenses that are violations rather than crimes.
Violations are offenses that cannot result in imprisonment or probation, but may result in fines

MPC approach to strict liability


Definition – unlawful killing of human being by another human with malice aforethought

Homicide (Common Law Murder)


murder prosecution only if victim dies within one year and a day of injury

Common law year and a day rule


Malice -- person acts with malice if unjustifiably, inexcusably, and in absence of mitigating circumstances, kills person with any one of following mental states
intent to kill (knowingly or purposely)
intent (knowingly or purposely) to inflict grievous bodily injury on another
extreme reckless disregard for value of human life (depraved heart)
intent to commit felony during commission or attempted commission during which killing occurs (felony murder rule)

Mens Rea for Common law Murder


malice mental state must exist at time of homicide, rather than after killing. Law doesn't punish people for killing malice afterthought.



(1) intent to kill
Purposely or knowingly taking another's life (conscious object of killer or killer subjectively knew death was virtually certain to result)
Example – Cynthia wants to kill her husband. She places a bomb on an airplane he is riding. The bomb goes off and kills 101 people. She only wanted her husband to die but was nearly certain the others would die. She is guilty of murdering all 101.
(2) intent to inflict grievous bodily injury
Defendant acts with malice aforethought if intends to inflict grievous bodily injury on another. If death results, guilty of murder
Common law intent = knowingly or purposely
Must be intent to commit very serious bodily injury, not just some injury.
Often defined as injury that imperils life or is likely to be attended with dangerous or fatal consequences
Example -- Debbie stabs Victoria in the stomach with a large knife. Victoria dies. Debbie claims she did not intend to kill Victoria. Even if the jury believes Debbie, Debbie could be convicted of murder because she intended to inflict grievous bodily injury.
(3) depraved heart (extreme recklessness)
Abandoned and malignant heart -- conduct manifesting extreme indifference to value of human life. Today, would probably = extreme recklessness

Common Law Mental State for Murder


Defendant guilty of murder if she kills another, even accidentally, during commission or attempted commission of a felony.

felony murder rule


willful, deliberate, premeditated killing

1st Degree murder


to weigh pros and cons; not hot-blooded (quality of thinking)



to think about beforehand (quantity of thinking)






all the rest of common law murder

2nd Degree Murder


Defendant guilty of criminal homicide if takes life of another human purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently.

MPC Criminal Homicide


MPC divides criminal homicide into three offenses

murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide).


murder if committed purposely, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to value of human life

Homicide MPC


unlawful killing of person by another person without malice aforethought

Manslaughter (voluntary or involuntary)


intentional killing in which defendant takes life in "sudden heat of passion," as result of "adequate provocation"

Voluntary Manslaughter (Common Law)


Must be such that it might inflame passion of ordinary person and tend to cause ordinary person to act for moment from passion rather than reason.

Adequate Provocation


aggravated assault or battery,
mutual combat,
commission of serious crime against close relative of defendant,
observation by husband of wife in act of adultery,
resisting illegal arrest

Common law fixed categories (judge determined adequacy of provocation):


trivial battery
learning about adultery instead of observing it
observation of unfaithfulness of girlfriend
words, no matter how offensive

Not Considered Provocation (Common Law)


felony of second-degree, carrying minimum punishment of imprisonment from 1 to 3 years and maximum sentence of 10 years.

MPC Manslaughter


it is commited recklessly or
a homicide which would otherwise be murder is commited under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse. The reasonableness of such explanation or excuse shall be determined from the viewpoint of a person in the actors situation under the circumstances as he believes them to be.

MPC Manslaughter


person who kills another person in criminally negligent manner is guilty of

Involuntary Manslaughter (Common Law)


Criminally negligent killing (involuntary manslaughter common law) is the lesser offense of

Negligent Homicide MPC