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Introduction to Criminal Law

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1 Introduction to Criminal Law
Chapter 8 Street Law Text pp

2 Almost all crimes require an illegal act accompanied by a guilty state of mind.
State of Mind- a prohibited act done intentionally, knowingly, or willfully. Mens Rea- the Latin term for the requirement of a guilty state of mind [a criminal intent] Carelessness is not considered a guilty state of mind– example; accidentally leaving the stove on and burning down a building is not arson State of Mind is different from Motive. Motive is WHY a person commits a crime, State of Mind is that they do it intentionally- example: Robin Hood stealing from the rich, regardless of the “reason” was a crime. Strict Liability-legal responsibility for damage or injury even if you did not do it intentionally Strict Liability in criminal law deals with endangerment basically- examples; selling alcohol to a minor, or Statutory Rape- having intercourse with a minor under a certain age, or even less serious crimes like traffic violations.

3 General Considerations
Elements Every crime is defined by certain elements Elements- parts of a act that make it a specific crime The elements that make an act Robbery Taking and carrying away of someone's property [larceny] The taking from a person The use of force or intimidation Thus if someone breaks into your home when you are not there and steals something they can not be charged with Robbery because all the Elements are not met. A single act can be both a crime and a civil wrong [tort]

4 Problem 8.1 Anton is a bully. One night while eating at a local diner, he notices Derek eating at a nearby table. Anton does not like the band displayed on Derek’s T0shirt, so to show his pals who is in charge, Anton orders Derek to sit at another table. When Derek refuses, Anton punches him in the jaw. As a result of the injury, Derek misses several weeks or work and has to pay both medical and dental bills. a. Has Anton violated civil laws, criminal laws, or both? b. Who decides whether Anton should be charged criminally? Who decides whether or not to sue Anton in a civil action? c. If Anton is charged with a crime and is sued in a civil action , would the civil and criminal cases be tried together? Why or why not? d. Is going to court the only way to handle this problem? What alternatives are there and which do you think would work best?

5 State and Federal Crimes
Some acts can violate both State and Federal crimes or can simply be a violation of one or the other. State Crimes- simple assault, disorderly conduct, drunk driving, shoplifting Federal Crimes- failure to file federal income tax, mail fraud, espionage, international smuggling State & Federal Crimes- possession of drugs, murder, bank robbery Classes of Crimes Felony- more serious crime with possibility of more than a year in jail Misdemeanor- less serious crime with possibility of up to a year in jail Usually minor traffic violations are not considered a crime, they have a separate penalty code.

6 Parties to Crimes Principal- person that actually commits the act
Accomplice- person or people that help carry out the act, they can be charged as a “principal”- example- get away driver or others present at the time of the act Accessory before the fact- person or persons that help plan the act but do not participate, or are not present when the act is carried out, they can be charged as a “principal” Accessory after the fact- person or persons who have no knowledge of the act until after it is done, but help in some way those who committed the act- example- hide a person in their house, cannot be charged as a “principal”

7 Problem 8.2 Harold and Marci decide to burglarize Superior Jewelers. Their friend Carl, and employee at Superior, helps by telling them the location of the store vault. Marci drives a van to the store and acts as the lookout while Harold goes inside and cracks the safe. After Harold and Marci make their getaway, Harold meets a friend, Shawn, who was not involved in the actual burglary. Harold tells Shawn about the burglary, and Shawn helps Harold get a train out of town. David, a former classmate of Harold and Marci, witnesses the crime but does not tell the police, even though he recognizes both Harold and Marci. How will each person be charged? Explain. Harold Marci Carl Shawn David Principal Accomplice --Principal Accessory before the fact --Principal Accessory after the fact NOTHING, no legal responsibility to report a crime

8 Crimes of Omission Crime of Omission-when a person fails to act, when required by law, if they were physically able Examples- failing to pay taxes, failing to stop after accident, failing to report child abuse [if you are a teacher] The Drowning Girl Abe takes his daughter Jill and her friends Kristi and Chin to the lake. While horsing around on the dock, Kristi deliberately shoves Chin into Jill, causing Jill to fall into the water. Jill ands awkwardly and sinks to the bottom. Chin pushes Kristi back, ignoring Jill’s plight. Hannah, a bystander and an expert swimmer, glares at Kristi but takes no other action. Abe confronts the group, demanding that they do something. If Jill drowns, would any of the witnesses be criminally liable? Should any of them be liable? Jill Abe Kristi Chin Hannah Obviously not, she is the one in the water Abe is her father, he has a responsibility to try to help, if able [crime of omission] Committed a wrong and possibly a crime, because she shoved with intention Wrong place wrong time, unless you charge her because of shoving back Just because she is an expert swimmer does not make her responsible to act

9 Preliminary Crimes Inchoate Crimes-preliminary actions that are crimes, they require proof of criminal intent but can be punished even if the harm intended never occurred Solicitation-to ask, command, urge, or advise another to commit a crime Hiring a hit man, prostitution Attempt- all elements of a crime committed, but fails to achieve the result of the crime Just wounding someone you wanted to kill, robbing an empty bank etc. Attempt takes “substantial steps” mere preparation does not constitute attempt Conspiracy-agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime, along with intent, and some action that furthers the agreement Meant to stop big crime, terrorism, and other crimes before an attempt is made [hiring a hitman can be a conspiracy and solicitation] Overt-an act that is open to view, Usually needed to prove a conspiracy

10 Problem 8.3 Examine the following situations and decide whether any of the individuals involved would be guilty of the crime of attempt. Martin, a bank teller, figures out a foolproof method of stealing money from the bank. It takes him some time to get up the nerve to steal any money. Finally, he makes up his mind and tells his girlfriend, Yuka, that tomorrow he will steal the money. Yuka goes to the police, and Martin is arrested an hour later. Gilbert, an accomplished thief, is caught while trying to pick Lewis’s pocket. He pleads not guilty and says he cannot possible be convicted, because Lewis did not have a penny on him. Rita and Anwar decide to rob a liquor store. They meet at a pub and talk over their plans. Rita leaves to buy a revolver, and Anwar leaves to steal a car for use in their getaway. Rita is arrested as she walks out of the gun shop with her new revolver. Anwar is arrested while trying to hot-wire a car. Amy decides to burn down her store to collect the insurance money. She spreads gasoline around the building. She is arrested while leaving the store to get a book of matches.

11 Problem 8.4 Three students- Johnson, Hector, and Rajana- hate school. On Monday, they discuss a plan to commit arson and burn down their school. On Tuesday, the three of them purchase kerosene and matches at the local hardware store. On Wednesday, Johnson, Hector, and Rajana load the kerosene and matches into Hector’s truck and drive together to the school. They carry the kerosene and matches towards the school, pour kerosene near the school and light a match. A police officer notices them and runs over to arrest them. a. At what point, if any, are Johnson, Hector, and Rajana guilty of the crime of conspiracy in most states? b. At what point, if any, are Johnson, Hector, and Rajana guilty of the crime of attempted arson? c. Assume that Johnson changes his mind and decides not to participate in the arson after he goes to the hardware store with Hector and Rajana to purchase the kerosene and matches. Could he be charged with any crime? If so, what crime?

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