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Flashcards in Requirements of a Crime Deck (22):

What are the four requirements of a crime?

1. Actus Reus (bad act)
2. Mens Rea (mental state necessary)
3. Causation that links the defendant's actions with a social harm
4. Concurrence between the mens rea and social harm


What is Actus Reas?

1. A voluntary act (or omission to act when there is a duty to act)
2. that causes
3. social harm

The act itself must be intentional; a willful movement.

(Decina - driver at risk of seizure crashed car killing 4 children. "when his conduct manifests a disregard of the consequences which may ensue from the act, and indifference to the rights of others," it is sufficient to find he voluntarily acted.


When is there a requirement to act?

- Special relationship (immediate family, employer/employee, etc.)
- Contract
- statutory duty
- creation of the risk
- voluntary assumption of care


What is the Hawaii Good Samaritan Statute?

Any person at the scene of a crime who knows that a victim of the crime is suffering from serious physical harm shall obtain or attempt to obtain aid from law enforcement or medical personnel if the person can do so without danger or peril to any person.

Violation is a petty misdemeanor.


Beardsley Case

Married defendant partied with a prostitute when his wife was gone and prostitute died in his house after ingesting morphine. Manslaughter conviction overturned on grounds that the woman was in charge of herself, and defendant was under no duty to act because of a lack of special relationship, he did not voluntarily assume care, nor did he create the risk.


Howard Case

Mother of 5 year old guilty of manslaughter when her boyfriend abused child over 7 weeks and eventually killed her. Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed conviction because the appellant's failure to protect the child was a direct cause of her death, and that failure to act was reckless or grossly negligent under the circumstances.


Robinson Case

Defendant was addicted to narcotics and California statute made it illegal to use or be addicted to narcotics. To be addicted to narcotics is a “status” and not an act. “Status” cannot be criminalized.


What is Mens Rea?

he particular mental state provided for in the definition of the offense.


List common law mental states.

• willfully,
• maliciously
• corruptly
• intentionally
• knowingly
• recklessly
• negligently


List Modern Penal Code mental States.

• purposefully
• knowingly
• recklessly
• negligently


What does the mental state of "malicious" require.

• the actual intention to do the particular kind of harm that in fact was done, or
• recklessness as to whether such harm should occur or now (i.e. the accused has foreseen that the particular kind of harm might be done, and yet commits the act anyway)

There is no requirement of ill-will towards the person injured.
(Regina - defendant stole gas meter from future mother-in-law's house partially asphyxiating her)


What are the two definitions of intent?

1. acting with the requisite intent if it is his or her conscious object or purpose to cause a certain result or to engage in certain prohibited conduct (Conscious intent)
2. one 'intends' a particular social harm if one knows to a virtual certainty that one's actions will cause that social harm (knowledge to a virtual certainty)
(Holloway - carjackers pointed a gun at victim and threatened to kill if victim did not hand over keys, SCOTUS determined defendant had an intent to kill at that moment)


Fugue case (looking at intent)

Defendant committed an armed robbery of an underground garage owner, and then took him into the garage and shot and killed him. Convicted of first degree murder.

Claimed no intent to kill, that it was an accident.

How do you prove intent when you cannot look into a person’s mind?

Element of intent may be determined from attendant circumstances and the composite picture developed by the evidence in this case is particularly suited to a reasonable finding that the killing was done purposely.

Allows you to look at the surrounding circumstances to determine whether there was likely intent.
• "natural and probable consequences"


Jewell Case (willful blindness)

Defendant arrested for transportation of marijuana when stopped across the Mexico/US border. Claimed that someone paid him to drive the car across the border and he was not aware that the marijuana was in the vehicle.

“Willful blindness” is deliberate ignorance.

Court determines that positive knowledge is not required:
• conscious effort to disregard…with a conscious purpose to avoid learning the truth.
○ must have “awareness of high probability of the fact"
○ “only where it can almost be said that the defendant actually knew"
○ a calculated effort to avoid the sanctions of the statute while avoiding its substance.


What is the Doctrine of Transferred Intent?

policy that a defendant that shoots at an intended victim with intent to kill but misses and hits a bystander should be subject to the same criminal liability that would have been imposed had he hit his intended mark.

Intent can be transferred from the intended victim to a bystander. (Scott)


What is the difference between general and specific intent?

General criminal intent - when the definition of the crime consists only of the description of a particular act, without reference to intent to do a further act or achieve a further consequence.
- Intent to do an act

Specific intent - when the definition refers to defendant's intent to do some further act or achieve some additional consequence.
- Language typically includes phrases such as "with the intent to…" or "for the purpose of" achieving some further act.
- Intent to do an act for a specific purpose

Arson is willfully setting fire to something (intent is to set the fire). No intent to burn/destroy a structure, forest land, or property. Thus arson is a general intent crime. (Atkins)


What is a strict liability crime?

the statute does not require a mental state element.

Court must determine whether the legislature intended it to be a strict liability crime, or if the lack of a mental state element was a mistake.

SCOTUS determined that when a statute is silent as to mens rea, the ordinary presumption is that a mental state is required for criminal liability. (Atkins)


What are the rules for a mistake of fact in common law?

Is it a general intent, specific intent, or strict liability crime?

If GI, only a mistake of fact if reasonable

If SI, ask whether mistake of fact negates the specific intent required for the crime. The mistake does not need to be reasonable (it can be unreasonable)

Strict liability - no defense based on mistake of fact.


What is the general rule for mistake of law?

Mistake of law is not a defense.

Exception - reasonable reliance on an official interpretation


What is causation and how is it required for a crime?

Defendant must be both an actual cause and the proximate cause of the social harm in order to be found criminally liable.

Actual cause: But for D's act, would the social harm have occurred?
- If Yes - actual cause test not met
- If No - D is actual cause of the harm

Proximate Cause
- Whether defendant's conduct was the operative (direct) cause of the victim's death
- Whether the defendant's actions were so extraordinarily remote or attenuated that it would be unfair to hold the defendant criminally responsible.

(Rementer - defendant assaulting female victim while driving when victim escapes and is subsequently run over by a car and killed)


What are the two types of intervening causes?

Responsive/Dependent intervening cause - one that is dependent upon or responsive to the defendant's voluntary act. Defendant is the proximate cause unless the intervening cause is extremely unusual or bizarre (abnormal and unforeseeable)
- Abnormal and unforeseeable cause is sometimes called superseding cause

Coincidental/Independent intervening cause - independent or coincidental to the defendant's voluntary act. Defendant relieved of criminal liability unless the intervening cause is foreseeable.
- Defendant puts the victim in a bad place at a bad time; coincidental event breaks the chain of causation unless that event was foreseeable.


What concurrence must be present for a crime?

1. Temporal concurrence
- Defendant must possess the means rea at the same time he engages in the actus rea.
2. Motivational concurrence