Flashcards in Mens rea and causality quiz Deck (25):
1. "Intentionally." A person acts intentionally with respect to a result or to conduct described by a statute defining an offense when his conscious objective is to cause such result or to engage in such conduct.
2. "Knowingly." A person acts knowingly with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware that his conduct is of such nature or that such circumstance
3. "Recklessly." A person acts recklessly with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. A person who creates such a risk but is unaware thereof solely by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts recklessly with respect thereto.
4. "Criminal negligence." A person acts with criminal negligence with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.
Presumption of application of mens rea elements (MPC V NYPL)
Material elements requirement Vs no material elements requirement
Definition of Material Element in MPC
(10) “material element of an offense” means an element that does not relate exclusively to the statute of limitations, jurisdiction, venue, or to any other matter similarly unconnected with (i) the harm or evil, incident to conduct, sought to be prevented by the law defining the offense, or (ii) the existence of a justification or excuse for such conduct;
Factors for statute interpration
• the whole, the phraseology, the words,
• the law as it prevailed before the statute,
• the mischief to be remedied,
• the remedy,
• the end to be accomplished,
• the statute in pari material (preamble, title, etc.).
• the legislative history, earlier statutes on the same subject, common law at the time of the statute and interpretations of similar statutes.
• Words are not presumed to be redundant.
Strict liability and its factors
- Courts generally do not like strict liability; they feel there should always be a mens rea component;
- Weakness of strict liability: does not necessarily deter, most are smaller crimes with less harsh sentences;
Factors for analyzing strict liability:
- Omits mention of mens rea
- policy (e.g. public welfare offense)
- Standard is reasonable and proper to expect people to follow
- Penalty is relatively small
- Crime does not carry a heavy stigma
- Common law treatment of crime
- Statutory interpretation of principles
- attendant circumstance
Mens rea in common law
Transferred Intent rule (People V Conley)
When a person intends to commit a crime harming one person, but the harm is accidentally conferred on another person, intent is satisfied.
(person smashes bottle on face of other person after missing the intended victim)
The fact that NYPL statutes explicitly include transferred intent indicates that if a statute excludes it it’s less likely to read it in.
Example: "NYPL 125.25 Murder in the second degree.
The MPC on the other hand includes transferred intent in its definitions of Purposefully and Knowingly, this indicating that it is inherent in all MPC statutes.
A legal mechanism to allocate the burden of proof to a particular party
Inferring intent from the surrounding circumstances
A jury may infer intent from the surrounding circumstances (the ordinary consequences of a person's actions).
There is no "presumption" of intent - that would be transferring the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense, in violation of the due process clause.
Rule for acceleration
Once an injury occurs that will bring about a prohibited result, if the second actor simultaneously or later causes a non-lethal injury that accelerates the prohibited result, the second actor is an actual cause.
If the harm would no have occurred but for the defendant's conduct, the defendant is an actual cause
Substantial factor test
When two actors acting independently, commit two separate acts, each of which alone is sufficient to cause the prohibited result
Knowledge of a high probability of something satisfies knowledge of that thing
Per the MPC 2.02 4 when one mens rea term appears it...
applies to all material elements unless a contrary purpose plainly appears.
Requirements for mistake of fact
Specific intent (Intent & Knowledge)
- Must be in good faith
General intent (Reckless & Negligence)
- Must be in good faith and reasonable
What mens term could be read into the a statute when none is provided?
Purposefully, knowingly, recklessly (not negligently)
Intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, negligently
Differences between NYPL and MPL
- Mens rea applies only to material in MPC Vs in NYPL applies to all elements
- In NYPL court can read in all 4 mens rea Vs MPC cannot read in negligence
- Transferred intent; built in MPC, not in NYPL
- Willfull Blindness
- Mistake of law: in MPC incorrect interpretation of statute only valid defence if it was find to be erroneous later; Court in Marrero adopted this into NYPL
Mistake of Law
1) Due process violation (felon has to be registered the moment he arrives in the city limits)
-- malum prohibition Vs malum in se? (should be conduct
-- omission crime
-- ordinary law abiding citizen
2) When relying on a government official's interpretation who has a jurisdiction over the that law
3) If the statute requires the knowledge of the statute (e.g. tax law)
Match type of elements to mens rea terms
Intentionally: conduct or result
Knowingly: conduct or circumstance
Recklessly: result or circumstance
Negligently: result or circumstance
Rule for mens rea
- culpability of the actor's mental state
- 1) Presupposed in crimes unless factors for strict liability for all or part of the statute
- there are 4 levels of mens rea in NYPL and MPC and
- 2 levels in common law with little consistency across jurisdictions
- 2) prove beyond a reasonable doubt
Events generally considered to be superseding
- Acts of nature
- Independent intentional acts of third parties or the victim
- Gross negligence of third parties