Presentation on theme: "Chapter Four The General Principles of Criminal Liability:"— Presentation transcript:
1 Chapter Four The General Principles of Criminal Liability: Mens Rea, Concurrence, Causation and Ignorance and MistakeChapter Four
2 Chapter Four Learning Objectives Understand and appreciate that most serious crimes require criminal intent and a criminal act.Understand the difference between criminal intent and motive.Understand the difference between general and specific intent.Understand and appreciate the differences in culpability among the Model Penal Codes’ four mental states—purposefully, knowingly, recklessly and negligently.Understand that criminal liability is sometimes imposed without fault (also known as strict liability.)To know the definition of concurrence and why it’s important in criminal behavior.Understand that the element of causation applies only to “bad result” crimes and be able to differentiate factual cause from legal cause.Understand that ignorance of facts and law can create a reasonable doubt that the prosecution has proved the element of criminal intent
3 Elements of Crime Voluntary act (prior chapter) Mens rea—criminal intentMost serious crimes require a mental element called mens rea (criminal intent)Required because of culpability or blameworthinessMost states and the Federal government follow common law principles about mens reaMens rea is not one level of intent, it comprises a range of intent—generally broken down by the degree of blameworthinessConcurrence—requirement that criminal intent trigger the criminal act in conduct crimes; criminal conduct must cause bad result in bad result crimesCausationCriminal act must be both the cause in fact and the legal cause of the harm
4 Criminal Intent—Mens Rea Ancient requirementComplexDifficult to prove in courtDifficult to grasp and define in legislationSeveral mental attitudes that range across spectrumDifferent mental attitudes may apply to different elements of the crime
5 Mens Rea (cont.) Mens rea is different than motive Ex. Man kills wife for moneyMens rea= intent to killMotive= get moneyMotive is something that causes a person to act and is “irrelevant” to criminal liabilityMotive may be important in establishing a defenseMotive may be an element of crimeMotive is also important in some defenses
6 Proving “State of Mind” Confessions are the only direct evidence of mental attitudeProof of intent usually rests on indirect, circumstantial evidenceIt is common in everyday life to infer people’s intent from what they do
7 Criminal Intent Subjective fault—fault that requires a bad mind Ex. Receiving an iPod you know is stolenBad state of mind is “knowingly accepting”Terms also used to express subjective faultIll will, depravity of will, depraved heartObjective Fault—fault that requires no bad mind in the actorEx. Buying an iPod for $10.00 thinking it is newAverage person would have known that it was stolen
8 Strict LiabilityCriminal liability that does not require either subjective or objective faultEx. Statute: whoever receives stolen propertyNotice: there is no requirement that person knowingly received stolen property
9 General and Specific Intent General intent: the intent to commit the criminal act defined in the statuteCourts don’t always define general intent the same waySpecific intent: intent to cause the result (in bad result crimes)Generally has subjective fault componentDeliberate, conscious, intended, planned, premeditated…etc.General intent “plus”: intent to commit the criminal act plus some mental elementmost common definition of specific intentEx. Burglary is specific intent. Burglar has to intend to break and enter and has to intend to commit some crime while inside
10 Issue: Did Harris intend to carjack his friends car? Case: Harris v. StateFacts: Harris and Tipton got into an argument while Tipton was driving Harris home. Harris pushed Tipton out of the vehicle and drove away. Tipton reported his car as stolen.Issue: Did Harris intend to carjack his friends car?Holding: Court held that the mens rea requirement for carjacking in Maryland was the general intent to obtain unauthorized possession or control of car from person in action possession by force
11 Discussion ActivityReview the link below.Does your state have a “Dog Bite Law”?If so, what are the requirements of the law?Do you agree with having a “Dog Bite Law”?
12 Model Penal Code Mental States PurposefullyKnowinglyRecklesslyNegligentlyProduct of debateRanked according to degree of culpability
13 PurposefullyActors conscious object is to engage in conduct or cause a resultMost blameworthy mental stateTo do something on purposeHaving conscious object to commit the crime, cause the result
14 Knowingly(conduct crime) actor is aware that his conduct is of a certain nature or that a circumstance exists(bad result crime) actor is aware that it is practically certain that his conduct will cause such a resultBad result crimes = practically certain that conduct will cause the bad result (don’t need to have a conscious objective)Example: surgeon removing cancerous uterus. Knows/practically certain the surgery will kill the fetus (but that’s not her intent)
15 RecklesslyActor consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists or will result from his conductAwareness of the risk of causing criminal harm, then do the act anywayRecklessness doesn’t apply to conduct crimesHave to be aware that you are committing a voluntary actRecklessness is the resultCreate a risk of harm (don’t intend the harm)Risk has to be substantialRisk has to be unjustifiableDisregarding the risk has to be a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would exercise under the circumstances
16 NegligentlyActor should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists or will result from his conductRisk must be a nature and degree that actor’s failure to be aware of the risk….involves a gross deviation from the standard of care observed by a reasonable person in the actor’s circumstanceUnconsciously creating a risk of harmShould have been aware of the riskFailure to be aware of the risk is a gross deviation of the standard of care a reasonable person would have under the circumstancesA reasonable person would have realized they were creating the riskRisk has to be substantialRisk has to be unjustifiable
17 Issue: Did Stark intentionally expose his sexual partners to HIV? Case: State v. StarkFacts: Stark, the defendant, engaged in unprotected sex knowing he was HIV positive.Issue: Did Stark intentionally expose his sexual partners to HIV?Holding: Sufficient evidence from defendant’s actions that he purposefully intended to expose his partners with AIDS
18 Issue: Did Jantzi knowingly assault Anderson? Case: State v. JantziFacts: Jantzi, the defendant, stabbed Anderson in the abdomen when Anderson jumped on him and grabbed his shirt. Jantzi argued he did not remember making thrusting or swinging motions.Issue: Did Jantzi knowingly assault Anderson?Holding : Trial court erred in finding that defendant acted knowingly. Trial judge described reckless behavior, so appellate court reversed and entered judgment on lesser charge.
19 Discussion ActivityJohn, a High school senior, worked from 5:00 am-1:00pm then took his girlfriend to McDonalds for lunch. On his way home, he approached a stalled car in the center lane. In order to avoid a collision, John swerved to the right into the curb lane of traffic. Although he succeeded in avoiding an accident with the other car, at least one of the tires on the passenger side of his vehicle drove off the roadway onto the gravel shoulder. Some of the gravel on the shoulder was tossed into the air. John applied his brakes and tried to keep his vehicle on the road. However, he lost control and the vehicle fishtailed, spun around 180 degrees, and only stopped after crossing the center line. John’s vehicle struck a motorcycle throwing the driver in the air, and seriously injuring him.Is John’s behavior reckless? Be sure to support your response.
20 Case: Koppersmith v. State Facts: Koppersmith, the defendant, and his wife were arguing on their porch. A physical confrontation ensued and the defendants wife fell off the porch and died.Issue: Did Koppersmith kill his wife recklessly or negligently?Holding: Court held that there was evidence that defendant could have failed to perceive the risk, so the jury instruction on negligence should have been given.
21 Liability Without Fault-Strict Liability Liability without fault—based on the voluntary act aloneU.S. Supreme Court has upheld power of legislatures to make strict liability crimesTo protect public health and safetyMake clear they are imposing liability without fault
22 Strict liability (cont.) Support:Strong public interest in protecting public health and safety. These laws arose out of industrial revolution and aimed at protecting workers and citizens from ills of manufacturing, mining, commerce, etc.Penalty is usually (not always, however) mild
23 Strict liability (cont.) Criticism:Too easy to expand strict liability beyond offenses that endanger the publicIt “does no good” to punish people who don’t act purposefully, knowingly, recklessly, or negligentlyCriminal law without blameworthiness loses its appeal as a moral code
24 Issues: Is the “open bottle law” a strict liability offense? Case: State v. LogeFacts: Loge, the defendant was cited for open bottle after officers found an empty can of beer in the vehicle he was driving. Loge argued the vehicle was his fathers and he did not know it was in the vehicle.Issues: Is the “open bottle law” a strict liability offense?Holding: Yes. Proof of knowledge was not required.
25 ConcurrenceSome mental fault has to trigger the conduct (conduct crimes)Some mental fault has to trigger the conduct and the cause (in bad result crimes)Rarely an issue in cases
26 Causation Holding an actor accountable for the results of conduct Applies only to bad result crimesDistinguish between two types of causation—both are necessary in order to prove criminal liabilityFactual cause (aka “but for” causation, actual causation, “except for” causationLegal cause (aka proximate cause)
27 Factual CauseDid the actor set into motion a chain of events that ended in the result? If so, they are a factual cause of the result.But for the actors conduct, the result would not have occurred.MPC: Conduct is the cause of a result when it is an antecedent but for which the result in question would not have occurred.
28 Factual CauseNecessary to prove that actor was factual cause of the harm in order to show criminal liaiblity. BUT, it is not sufficient to prove criminal liability.Taken to logical extreme, almost anything can be the factual cause of something if you go back far enough….E.g., “had his mother not given birth, the defendant would not have been in the place to hit the victim.”
29 Legal “Proximate” Cause Necessary to prove that defendant is legal cause of harm in order to show criminal liabilityLegal cause asks whether it is fair to hold defendant responsible for the harmFactors in the fairness determination include:Whether the result was forseeable from the conductWhether some other factor contributed to the harm (Intervening harm)Whether the intervening factor was a a natural occurrence? (Natural occurrences don’t generally break off liability)When an intervening cause cuts off liability (because it is more fair to attribute the harm to it) it is said to be a superseding cause
30 Case: People v. Armitage Facts: Armitage, the defendant, had been drinking was driving a boat that capsized. Maskovich, the defendant’s friend, tried to swim to shore but drown.Issue: Did Armitage’s conduct cause his friends death?Holding: Yes. Court concluded that the victim’s attempt to swim ashore after defendant’s reckless boating resulted in a capsized boat was a natural and continuous sequence arise from defendant’s acts. Contributory negligence of the victim is not a defense.
31 Case: Velazquez v. State Facts: Velazquez, the defendant, and Alverez engaged in a drag race. Both vehicles were unable to stop at the end of the road. Alverez was thrown from the vehicle and died.Issue: Were Velazquez’s actions the legal cause of Alverez’s death?Holding: The court held that the defendant was not the proximate cause of victim’s death. Their participation in the mutually agreed on activity.
32 Issue: Did Kibbe and Krall legally cause Stafford’s death? Case: People v. KibbeFacts: Kibbe, the defendant, and Krall, co-defendant, gave Stafford a ride with the intent to rob him. After finding he had no money, they threw him from the vehicle. While standing in the middle of the road, Blake, a college student stuck and killed Stafford.Issue: Did Kibbe and Krall legally cause Stafford’s death?Holding: Court held that Kibbe and Krall were the proximate cause of victim’s death. The death could have been foreseen as being reasonably related to the acts of the defendant and Krall.
33 Ignorance and MistakeMistake is a defense when it negates the mens reaCharacterized as eitherA defense of excuseA failure of proof defense(can’t prove the requisite mental state)MPC- mistake matters when it prevents the formation of a mental attitude required by a criminal statute (refer to statute)Mistake cannot negate criminal liability for strict liability crimes (because they do not require mens rea)
34 Discussion ActivitySue is working in a library and brought a laptop with her. When she leaves, she takes someone else's laptop, honestly believing it is hers. Is Sue guilty of a crime? Why or why not?Ben believes that you don't have to come to a complete stop at a "Stop" sign when there are no other cars at the intersection. He rolls through a stop sign, striking a child on a bike that was crossing the road. Is Ben guilty of a crime? Why or why not?
35 Issue: Did Sexton shoot his friend by mistake? Case: State v. SextonFacts: Sexton, the defendant, fired a gun killing Matthews. Sexton did not believe there were bullets in the gun.Issue: Did Sexton shoot his friend by mistake?Holding: Evidence of an actor’s mistaken belief relates to whether the State has failed to prove an essential element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt.