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Nature of Crimes Crimes are public wrongs, classified from most serious to least serious as –Felony –Misdemeanor –Infraction Purpose of criminal sanctions.

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Presentation on theme: "Nature of Crimes Crimes are public wrongs, classified from most serious to least serious as –Felony –Misdemeanor –Infraction Purpose of criminal sanctions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nature of Crimes Crimes are public wrongs, classified from most serious to least serious as –Felony –Misdemeanor –Infraction Purpose of criminal sanctions (fines or imprisonment): deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation 5 - 1

2 Elements To convict a defendant of a crime, the government must –Demonstrate that alleged acts violated a criminal statute –Prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the acts –Prove the defendant had the capacity of criminal intent Courts narrowly interpret criminal statutes –Example: U.S. v. Sun-Diamond Growers of California 5 - 2

3 Constitutional Limitations Government may not enact an ex post facto (after the fact) law –Thus a person cannot be charged with a crime for an act that when committed was not a crime Constitutionally-protected behavior cannot be criminal – Example: Griswold v. Connecticut 5 - 3

4 Constitutional Limitations First Amendment allows government to regulate indecent speech and does not protect obscene expression –To determine if expression is obscene, courts apply the three-part Miller test –Example: Supreme Court applied the Miller test to strike down most of the Congressional efforts to criminalize obscenity on the Internet 5 - 4

5 Proof and Intent Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt Most serious crimes require proof of the defendant’s mens rea, or criminal intent –Defendant must have had capacity to form criminal intent –Three types of incapacity recognized: intoxication, infancy, and insanity 5 - 5

6 Criminal Procedure Arrest and booking of defendant Arrest report filed with prosecutor If defendant charged, complaint filed Initial appearance of defendant before judicial officer Preliminary (probable cause) hearing 5 - 6

7 Criminal Procedure If probable cause exists, formal charge – information or indictment – filed with court Arraignment of defendant in which defendant enters a plea –guilty, not guilty, nolo contendere (no contest) Defendant who pleads not guilty and faces incarceration for more than six months may choose a jury trial –Bench trial (judge only) also available 5 - 7

8 Constitutional Protections Bill of Rights: first ten amendments to the U.S. ConstitutionBill of Rights –Literally binds only the federal government, but applied to states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment 5 - 8

9 Constitutional Protections Fourth Amendment protects persons against unreasonable and arbitrary searches and seizures –Interpreted by Supreme Court to protect a reasonable expectation of privacy –General rule: warrantless searches are unreasonable (unconstitutional) –See United States v. Hall 5 - 9

10 What is a Search? Many Fourth Amendment cases carve out exceptions to the general rule, establishing activities that do not constitute a search: –Visual observation of things or activities in public view –Narcotics detection dogs used in a public place to investigate luggage or cars –Enhanced aerial photography of a facility 5 - 10

11 What is a Search? But the Supreme Court in Kyllo v. United States, held a device not in public use to examine what would otherwise be hidden is a search, thus presumptively unreasonable without a warrant 5 - 11

12 Warrantless Searches The Supreme Court has held that constitutional warrantless searches include: –The area within an arrestee’s immediate control –Premises police enter in hot pursuit of an armed suspect –Stop-and-frisk searches for weapons –Inventory searches of property (e.g., briefcase, automobile) in an arrestee’s possession –Consensual searches 5 - 12

13 The Exclusionary Rule The exclusionary rule prevents the use of evidence seized in an illegal search in a subsequent trial of the defendant –Supreme Court restricts the operation of the rule 5 - 13

14 The Fifth Amendment The Fifth Amendment provides a privilege or protection against compelled testimonial self- incrimination –Practical meaning: a person may remain silent if making a statement would assist the government in prosecuting the person –Miranda warnings safeguard the right –Also prohibits prosecutorial comments at trial about the defendant’s failure to testify 5 - 14

15 Scope of Fifth Amendment Self-incrimination privilege applies to –Testimonial admissions, thus police may compel a defendant to provide non-testimonial evidence (fingerprints, body fluids, hair) –Applies only to humans (not corporations) –Applies only if a defendant could be charged with a crime (not merely a civil lawsuit) Double jeopardy clause protects defendants from multiple criminal prosecutions for the same offense 5 - 15

16 Sixth Amendment Applies to criminal cases by guarantees of a –Speedy trial –Impartial jury –Right to confront and cross-examine witnesses –Right to effective assistance of counsel 5 - 16

17 White Collar Crimes Under modern rule, a business organization may be liable for criminal offenses committed by employees who acted within the scope of their employment and for the benefit of the corporation Numerous policy debates about how to deal with corporate crime 5 - 17

18 Ethics in Action Does an employee have an ethical duty to his or her employer? When an employee learns of apparently illegal conduct by his or her employer, does the employee have an ethical duty to become a whistleblower? What practical consequences might an employee face if he or she blows the whistle on illegal corporate activity? 5 - 18

19 White Collar Crimes Regulatory offenses –Example: violating the Clean Water Act Fraudulent acts –Examples: false claims, fraudulent concealment, wire fraud Sarbanes-Oxley Act violations –Example: Knowingly altering documents or business records with the intent to impede a government investigation 5 - 19

20 Computer Crime In general, existing criminal statutes apply to criminal activity conducted via computers, though these laws often are inadequate The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act imposes criminal and civil liability on a person who “knowingly, and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization... [and] obtains anything of value.” –Example: accessing a competitor’s computer to obtain customer lists 5 - 20

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