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Criminal Law Chapter 3 The General Principles of Criminal Liability: Actus Reus Joel Samaha, 9th Ed.

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Presentation on theme: "Criminal Law Chapter 3 The General Principles of Criminal Liability: Actus Reus Joel Samaha, 9th Ed."— Presentation transcript:

1 Criminal Law Chapter 3 The General Principles of Criminal Liability: Actus Reus Joel Samaha, 9th Ed.

2 Elements of a Crime Criminal act (actus reus) Criminal act (actus reus) Criminal intent (mens rea) Criminal intent (mens rea) Concurrence (“an act set in motion by an intent”) Concurrence (“an act set in motion by an intent”) Attendant circumstances Attendant circumstances Bad result or harm Bad result or harm

3 All crimes have to include, at a minimum, at a minimum, a criminal act (actus reus).

4 Questions What is an attendant circumstance? Give an example. Explain the concept of a criminal conduct crime? criminal conduct crime? Give an example.

5 Criminal Liability  Actus reus (criminal act )  We punish people for what they do, not for what they intend to do (state of mind), or for who they are (status). Key term: manifest criminality  Men's rea (criminal intent)  Punishment  (at least for serious crimes) depends on the blameworthiness of the intent that triggers the criminal act  Concurrence  Criminal intent (mens rea) has to trigger criminal acts (actus reus) and cause criminal harm

6 Factors Which Affect Actus Reus Voluntary acts Voluntary acts Status or condition Status or condition Constitution Constitution Criminal omissions Criminal omissions Criminal possessions Criminal possessions

7 Voluntary Acts “A person is not guilty of an offense unless his liability is based on conduct that includes a voluntary act…” (ALI 1985, § 2.01). “A person is not guilty of an offense unless his liability is based on conduct that includes a voluntary act…” (ALI 1985, § 2.01). So long as there’s one voluntary act, other acts surrounding the crime may be involuntary. So long as there’s one voluntary act, other acts surrounding the crime may be involuntary. What are the facts and opinion of Brown v. State (955 S.W.2d 276, Texas 1997)? What are the facts and opinion of Brown v. State (955 S.W.2d 276, Texas 1997)?

8 Status or Condition and the Consititution Action describes what we do, status (or condition) denotes who we are. Most statuses or conditions do not qualify as actus reus. Action describes what we do, status (or condition) denotes who we are. Most statuses or conditions do not qualify as actus reus. Status can arise in two ways: Status can arise in two ways: 1) From prior voluntary acts, such as drinking alcohol or using drugs 2) Being who we are: sex, age, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity It is unconstitutional for the legislature to make a crime out of status or personal conditions. It is unconstitutional for the legislature to make a crime out of status or personal conditions. What are the facts and opinion of Robinson v. California (1962, 370 U.S. 660)? Is actus reus a constitutional command? What are the facts and opinion of Robinson v. California (1962, 370 U.S. 660)? Is actus reus a constitutional command?

9 Criminal Omission Two types: Two types: 1) failure to report 2) failure to intervene; e.g., legal duty Legal duty: Legal duty: 1) Statutes, e.g., income tax returns and firearms registration 2) Contracts, e.g., law enforcement officers 3) Special relationships, e.g., parent-child and doctor-patient

10 Questions What is the difference between the Good Samaritan Doctrine and the American Bystander Rule ? What are the facts and opinions of the following cases ? Commonwealth v. Pestinakas 617 A.2d 1339 (1992, Pa. Sup.) People v. Oliver (1989) State v. Miranda (1998)

11 Possession Possession is not action; it is a passive condition. Examples of criminal possession statutes are burglary tools, stolen property, illegal drugs and weapons. Possession is not action; it is a passive condition. Examples of criminal possession statutes are burglary tools, stolen property, illegal drugs and weapons. The passive state of possession as actus reus includes: The passive state of possession as actus reus includes: 1) control of items and substances, e.g., actual possession or constructive possession 2) awareness of control, e.g., knowing possession or mere possession Explain the facts and opinion of Miller v. State (1999). Explain the facts and opinion of Miller v. State (1999).


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