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Criminal Law Outline

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This is an extract of our Criminal Law document, which we sell as part of our Criminal Law Outlines collection written by the top tier of University Of Michigan Law School students.

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I. Punishment Justifications A. Specific deterrence - 1 person B. General deterrence - on society as a whole i. Some problems - both expected gains and perception of risk vary from criminal to criminal C. Incapacitation - keeping the individual from menacing society D. Rehabilitation - removing the reasons the individual breaks the law E. Expressive - publicly denouncing a behavior, making a moral judgment i. Law shapes social norms, while empowering victims. ii. Unlike deterrence, which makes people afraid, this is about shaming them F. Retribution - backward-looking, giving individual what they deserve for the crime i. Negative retributivism: moral desert is necessary for punishment ii. Positive retributivism: moral desert is necessary AND sufficient for punishment, making punishment mandatory (harder core) "Incommensurability problem" - trying to match punishment (e.g., time in prison) to crime (e.g.,
$ stolen or life taken) II. Notice and the Legality Principle A. The legality principle: punishment is illegitimate unless the conduct was a crime at the time it was performed i. Nuremberg sometimes referred to as deviation from this ii. However, legal fiction exists that people presumed to be on notice of statutes iii. "Void for vagueness" doctrine - very rarely invoked!
B. Rule of lenity: if statute's text ambiguous, side with D i. Muscarello majority: only when grievous ambiguity III. Elements of Crimes A. Winship rule: P must prove EACH element beyond a reasonable doubt B. Key elements: actus reus (voluntary act or omission), mens rea (mental state), causation and result, attendant circumstances i. Voluntary act requirement - not about full comprehension of act's consequences, but merely that D had basic control/ability to avoid the act a. Can think of this distinction as drunk vs. unconscious ii. Omissions = crimes when D had ability to act, AND was under legal duty or had assumed responsibility IV. Drug Crimes A. Some things not to do with drugs: manufacture, distribute, import/export, possess with intent to distribute, possess, use i. Sharing = distributing ii. For possession, knowledge = enough for mens rea (also required for vol. act) iii. Constructive possession possible, if one controls where the drugs are, but knowledge still needs to be shown - just can be shown circumstantially

1 Distinction: knowledge and intent. One "knowingly" does something when result is "practically certain." Doesn't need to intend, which means they do it with the purpose of the result. Jury MAY presume intent though if consequences are "natural and probable." Transferred intent doctrine: If D has the required mental state toward harm to A, but harms B, mental state element = satisfied. (Note: can actually be charged with attempted murder AND actual murder if you kill the wrong person! - exception to merger rule) V. MPC Mental States - Defined with respect to acts, results, and attendant circumstances 2.02 A. Purposely: aim B. Knowingly: awareness (practical certainty w/r/t result) C. Recklessly: awareness of substantial and (objectively) unjustifiable risk. MPC's default mental state, assumed if no other listed i. Distinguished from "knowingly" in degree - prac. cert. vs. risk ii. Justification matters - if D legitimately balanced risks as he saw them, jury might not convict iii. Risk broken down as D saw it, but then D's action assessed objectively iv. "Conscious disregard" of a "substantial/unjustifiable" risk D. Negligently: should be aware of risk E. Assume mental state requirement extends to ALL elements of crime i. Example: "purposely transferring stolen goods" - have to know they're stolen F. Any higher mental state suffices if the statute requires a lower mental state G. Willful blindness usually suffices for (constructive) knowledge i. Under MPC, knowledge satisfied by knowledge of high probability ii. But be careful - this doesn't apply to knowledge with respect to result, which always requires "practical certainty." It's about objectively verifiable facts, not predictions about the future. H. Strict liability crimes i. Traditionally, applies just to public welfare offenses, like speeding/drunk driving. ii. Purpose is to put social cost on least cost avoider iii. Rule from Staples: rebuttable presumption against strict liability, except for public welfare offenses a. If inherently dangerous activity, might be a public welfare offense b. If there's a long sentence or if it's a felony, probably not pub. wel. off. iv. Statutory rape is a strict liability offense in most jurisdictions (though mental state still required for act element) I. Mistake of fact - Defense if and only if it negates the mental state element i. Purpose: any mistake as to existence of the fact ii. Knowledge: any mistake as to high probability iii. Recklessness: any mistake as to substantial risk *or* justification iv. Negligence: only REASONABLE mistakes as to sub. risk or justification a. distinguished from recklessness by objective assessment of facts Majority: mistake of fact, if honest and reasonable, is a defense MPC: just honest mistake enough J. Mistakes of law - Defense if you lacked fair notice as to law's existence

2 i. Lambert (Whitney Houston hypos on p. 207) says it is more forgivable to be unaware of an affirmative duty, but it's a rarely-cited decision a. Difficult to get laws struck down on this standard ii. Can get off if reasonable mistake founded on official interpretation of laws, though courts worry this can be too broadly used to escape liability iii. So, 3 types of mistake of law defenses: a. Due process: lack of notice = excusable ignorance of law b. Mistake negates mental state element that requires awareness of law c. Reasonable reliance on official statement of law VI. Causation A. Two requirements: factual (but-for) and legal/proximate (causal chain not too attenuated) i. Distinguish "intervening" causes from superseding, in that intervening don't necessarily break the chain (like medical malpractice) ii. Usually, it's foreseeability that determines B. 6 Rideout factors: a. De minimis (intervening cause made a minor contribution) b. Intended consequences - if D got the result for which he was trying, proximate causation satisfied even if unforeseeable c. Omissions - some jdxs hold that another's omission will never break the chain, even if unforeseeable d. Foreseeability e. Apparent safety - reaching position of safety then re-entering breaks the chain f. voluntary human intervention - more likely to be considered superseding if it involves voluntary human actions VII. Provocation A. Under CL and modern majority, four reqs: i. Adequate provocation a. "Calculated to inflame the passions of a reasonable man" - victim's actions, intent matter! Words can *sometimes* be enough b. Who is the reasonable man? Under CL, individual characteristics NOT taken into account (Talib the Sikh is measured against the 'ord. man') i. Modern variation takes ind. characteristics more into account ii. MPC: Jury can weigh individual traits, except for "idiosyncratic moral values" ii. Killing done in heat of passion iii. No cooling time iv. Causation (provocation ? passion ? act) VIII. Homicide A. "Murder" vs. "manslaughter" i. Murder: intentional killings that are premeditated or purposeful/knowing but not premeditated, AND accidental killings that are "depraved heart," "serious bodily harm," or felony murder ii. Manslaughter: intentional killings that are voluntary manslaughter (heat of passion/extreme emotional distress) (reduced from murder by adequate prov)


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