2 What Do Laws Do? Laws help to: Regulate human interaction. Enforce moral beliefs.Define the economic environment.Enhance predictability.Support the powerful. Sustain individual rights.Redress wrongs.Identify wrongdoers.Mandate punishment and retribution.
3 Where are our laws?Laws are found in statutory provisions and constitutional enactments, as well as hundreds of years of rulings by courts at all levels.Statutory law- written or codified law: the “law on the books,” as enacted by legislative action. (Courts interpret the statutory laws)Penal Code- written, organized, compiled form of criminal law
4 Interpreting Statutory Law Common Law—traditional body of unwritten historical precedents created from everyday social customs, rules, and practices, which may be supported by judicial decisions (marriage).Jurisprudence- philosophy of the law or the science and study of the law, including the rule of law.Rule of Law- holds that an orderly society must be governed by established principles and known codes that are applied uniformly and fairly to all of its members (even the govt.)
5 Types of LawCriminal law – The body of rules and regulations that define and specify the nature of, and punishments for, offenses of a public nature or wrongs committed against the state or societyCrimes injure not just individuals, but society as a whole.Punishment for violators of criminal law is justified because the offender intended the harm and is responsible for it.Types of written Criminal Law:Substantive law—describes which acts constitute crimes and specifies punishments for those acts.Procedural law—specifies the rules that determine how those who are accused of crimes are to be treated by the judicial system.
6 Types of Law (cont’d)Procedural Law- type of statutory law that regulates the processing of an offender by the criminal justice system.Includes:General rules of evidenceSearch and seizureProcedures to be followed during and after an arrestProcedural laws balance suspects’ rights against the state’s interested in speedy and efficient case processing.
7 Types of Law (cont’d)Civil Law- governs relationships between and among people, businesses and other organizations, and agencies of governmentTort- violation of civil lawConcerned more with liability than intent.Results can be an injunction or a loss of money.
8 Types of Law (cont’d)Administrative Law- body of regulations that governments create to control the activities of businesses, industry, and individuals.Can overlap with criminal law.Case Law- comes from judicial decisions. It is referred to as the law of precedent.Stare Decisis- courts’ recognition of previous decisions and precedents to guide future deliberations.
9 General Categories of Crimes (5) Felonies- serious crimes that are punishable by a year or more in prison or by death.Convicted felons may lose certain privileges (voting)Many states and the federal government use a number or letter scheme to differentiate among the varying degrees of severity of felony crimes.Misdemeanors- less serious crimes that are punishable by up to a year in a local correctional facility.Most misdemeanants receive a fine and probation.Ex. Disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, breaking & entering
10 FeloniesConvicted felons typically lose certain privileges upon release from prison:Right to vote or hold public office.Ability to enter certain professionsRight to carry or possess a firearmRight to serve on a federal grand or petit juryRight to federal jury serviceRight to enlistment in any of the armed forcesLecture NotesFelony is a criminal offense punishable by death or incarceration in a prison facility for at least one year.Homicide; Forcible rape; Aggravated assault; Robbery.Burglary; Motor vehicle theft; Arson; Larceny.Convicted felons typically lose certain privileges upon release from prison:Right to vote or hold public office.Ability to enter certain professionsRight to carry or possess a firearmRight to serve on a federal grand or petit juryRight to federal jury serviceRight to enlistment in any of the armed forcesTeaching TipA good point of discussion is to poll the students as to which rights should be lost due to the commission of a crime – do they agree with the above?
11 General Categories of Crimes (5) cont’d Offenses- violations of the criminal law.“Offense” or infraction is also used specifically to refer to minor violations of the law that are less serious than misdemeanors.People committing infractions are usually given a ticket and released until court (jaywalking, littering).Treason & EspionageTreason— a U.S. citizen’s action to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the United States.Espionage— gathering, transmitting, or losing information relating to national defense in such a manner that the information becomes available to enemies of the U.S. and may be used to their advantage.
12 General Categories of Crimes (5) cont’d Inchoate Offenses- offenses not yet completed (incomplete or partial acts).Consists of an action or conduct that is a step toward the intended commission of another offense.Ex. conspiracies and attempts.Burglar interrupted by the homeownersMaking a call to a hit man
13 General Features of Crime Crime consists of three elements:Actus reus (the criminal act)- guilty actThere has to be an act. Thoughts alone are not sufficient to constitute a crime.To be something (like a drug addict) is not enough. (using illegal drugs is enough)Actus reus can include:ThreatsOmission to actAttempted criminal actsConspiracies
14 A Guilty Mind (Mens Rea) Mens rea- a person’s mental state at the time the act was committed.There are four levels of mens rea:Purposeful- undertaken to achieve a goal (to kill)Knowing- action undertaken w/awareness (pilot & flight attendant)Reckless- activity that increases risk of harm (reckless driving)Negligent- lack of action that results in harm of others (parent leaving child unattended)*Mens rea is not the same as motive.Concurrence of the twoConcurrence requires that the guilty mind and guilty act occur together for a crime to take place.
15 Strict Liability and Mens Rea Strict liability offenses- special category of crime that require no culpable mental state.The purpose of these absolute liability offenses is to protect the public.Ex.Traffic lawsNarcotics laws
16 Elements of a Specific Crime Elements of a crime- specific legal aspects that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction.Ex. elements of first-degree murder might be:An unlawful killingOf a human being,IntentionallyBy another personWith maliceCorpus delicti- means the “body of crime.”A person cannot be tried for a crime unless it can first be proven that:A criminal law has been violated, andA person is criminally responsible.
17 Types of Defenses to a Criminal Charge Those who are charged typically offer some defense attempting to show why they should not be liable for a criminal charge.Four categories of defenses:Alibis- statement or contention by the defendant stating that he or she could not have committed the crime in question because he or she was somewhere else at the time of the crimeJustifications- defendants admit committing the offense, but believes that they should not be held criminally responsible because of a legally sufficient justification for their actions (lesser of two evils).
18 Criminal DefensesSelf-defense- makes the claim that it was necessary to inflict harm on another to ensure one’s own safety in the face of near-certain injury or death.Retreat rule—If opportunity to escape exists, then the courts require that the victim take that opportunity and flee.If the opportunity does not exist, then the victim can use reasonable force to defend herself.Defense of Others- You may use reasonable force to defend others who are or who appear to be in imminent danger.Sometimes called the alter ego rule.Defense of others does NOT include entering an illegal fight to help a family member or friend.
19 Criminal Defenses (cont’d) Defense of Home and Property- Most jurisdictions allow for the use of reasonable, non-deadly force in defense of one’s property.Castle exception- It is not necessary to retreat from one’s own home before resorting to deadly force in the face of an immediate threat.Excuses- With excuse defenses, defendants admit committing the offense, but believe that they should not be held criminally responsible because of some personal condition or circumstance at the time of the act.Duress- an unlawful threat or coercion that induces a person to act in a way they normally would not act.(stealing money to meet a demand for ransom)Age(infancy)- defense rooted in the belief that children cannot logically reason until around age seven—older children may be held responsible for crimes.
20 Excuses (cont’d) Mistakes 1. Mistake of law—Rarely acceptable “ignorance of the law is no excuse”2. Mistake of fact—Understanding of facts is incorrect(inappropriate relationship with underage person)Involuntary Intoxication- someone is tricked into consuming intoxicating substances—difficult to proveUnconsciousness- A person cannot be held responsible for anything he or she does while unconscious.(Sleepwalking, Epileptic seizures, Neurological dysfunction)
21 Excuses (cont’d)Provocation- recognizes that a person can be emotionally enraged by another who may intend to elicit just such a reaction.It is more acceptable in minor offenses.Sometimes used in cases where a wife kills her husband or a child kills her father after claiming years of abuse.Insanity- legal defense based on claims of mental illness or mental incapacity.M'Naghten Rule- person is not guilty of a crime if, at the time of the event, they either did not know what they were doing, or did not know that what they were doing was wrong.Irresistible Impulse- defendant knows what he is doing and knows that it is wrong, but cannot help himself. (L.Bobbitt)Durham Rule- a person is not criminally responsible for their behavior if their illegal action was the result of some mental disease or defect.
22 Excuses (cont’d)Substantial Capacity- (TN) a person lacked the substantial capacity to control his or her behavior.Must show that defendant had/lacked the “mental capacity needed to understand the wrongfulness of the act or to conform his behavior to the requirements of the lawCombination of M’Naghten rule & irresistible impulseBrawner Rule- places responsibility for deciding insanity squarely on the shoulders of the jury.
23 Insanity StandardsFIGURE 4–1 Standards for insanity determinations by jurisdiction.
24 InsanityThe federal Insanity Defense Reform Act (IDRA) was passed in places the burden of proof of insanity on the defendant.Insanity- a condition in which the defendant can be shown to have been suffering under a “severe mental disease or defect” and as a result, “was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts.”An insanity ruling is not an “easy way out.” The judge may order the person to undergo treatment until he or she is cured.In cases of a GBMI ruling, a judge may impose any sentence legally valid for the crime, though often psychiatric treatment is included.Temporary Insanity- Offender claims to only have been insane at the time of the offense
25 Guilty but Mentally Ill (GBMI) “Guilty but mentally ill” was created in response to public frustration with the insanity and responsibility issue.-person can be responsible for a criminal act even though a degree of mental incompetence may be present in their personalityThis can be established if:Every element necessary for a conviction has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt;Defendant is found mentally ill at time of offense; andDefendant is found NOT to have been legally insane at time crime was committed.
26 Diminished CapacityDiminished capacity (diminished responsibility)- based on claims of a mental condition that may be insufficient to exonerate the defendant of guilt but that may be relevant to specific mental elements of certain crimes or degrees of crimes.Evidence of mental abnormality might get charge reduced (first degree murder to second degree or manslaughter)Mental Incompetence- the court may find suspects “incompetent to stand trial.”A person deemed competent to stand trial must be capable of understanding the nature of the proceeding and must be able to assist in his or her own legal defense.Assesses the suspect’s condition immediately before trial
27 Procedural DefensesWith procedural defenses, defendants claim that they were in some way discriminated against in the justice process or that some important aspect of official procedure was not properly followed in the investigation or prosecution of the crime charged.Entrapment: An improper or illegal inducement to crime by agents of law enforcement. Also, a defense that may be raised when such inducements have occurred. For entrapment to occur, the idea for the criminal activity must originate with official agents of the criminal justice system.Double Jeopardy: A common law and constitutional prohibition against a second trial for the same offense.
28 Procedural Defenses (cont’d) Collateral Estoppel: Similar to double jeopardy, but it applies to facts that have been determined by a “valid and final judgment. These facts cannot be the object of new litigation.(trying someone w/alibi for second person killed w/first person)Prosecutorial Misconduct: Actions undertaken by prosecutors that give the government an unfair advantage or that prejudice the rights of a defendant or a witness.Denial of a Speedy Trial: Guaranteed by the 6th Amendment to prevent defendants from being held in jail. The time frame is set by federal and state laws.Police Fraud: Based on a belief that the police or government is in a conspiracy to violate an individual’s rights. The thought that the police “planted or tampered” with evidence would be an example.
29 Procedural Defenses (cont’d) Selective Prosecution: may be available where two/more individuals are suspected of criminal involvement, but not all are actively prosecuted.This defense can be argued when prosecution proceeds unfairly on the basis of some arbitrary and discriminatory attribute, such as race, sex, friendship, age, or religious preference.
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