Presentation on theme: "Constitutional Limits on Criminal Law"— Presentation transcript:
1 Constitutional Limits on Criminal Law Chapter TwoConstitutional Limits on Criminal Law
2 Chapter 2: Learning Objectives To understand and appreciate the reasons for the limits on criminal law and criminal punishment in the U.S. constitutional democracy.To understand the principle of legality and the importance of its relationship to the limits of criminal law and punishment.
3 Chapter 2: Learning Objectives To appreciate the nature and importance of retroactive criminal law making.To know the criteria for identifying vague laws, and understand and appreciate their constitutional significance and the consequences.To know, understand, and appreciate the limits placed on the criminal law and criminal punishment by the specific provisions in the Bill of Rights.
4 Chapter 2: Learning Objectives To understand and appreciate the constitutional significance and consequences of the principle of proportionality in criminal punishment.To understand the importance of the right to a jury determination in the process of sentencing convicted offenders.
5 U.S. Constitution: Context of Limits Constitutional drafters were concerned about power of government officialsDrafters wanted individual autonomy without governmental interferenceDrafters also sought orderConstitution is a balance of government power and individual liberty
6 U.S. Constitution: Context of Limits “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty is this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” --James Madison, 1787
7 Constitutional Democracy Constitutional Democracy limits the power of government to create certain crimesIn a Constitutional Democracy– not true majority rule—criminal laws may not be made when the Constitution protects the behavior as a fundamental rightExample:Free speech which may offend the majority cannot be made illegal
8 Rule of LawRule of law is the idea that no individual is above the law;Rule of law is manifested in the practice that government officials cannot pass laws that conflict with the Constitution.The Rule of Law deems that the constitution is the supreme law of the land, and that all other conflicting laws must fail and the constitution must trump them
9 The Principle of Legality The First principle of criminal law“No crime without law; No punishment without law”No one can be punished for a crime that did not exist at the time they engaged in the behavior
10 Principle of Legality and Ex Post Facto The principle of legality is articulated in Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution; The Ex Post Facto clause bans Congress from retroactive criminal law makingThe State Ban on Ex Post Facto Laws is found in Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution
11 Ex Post Facto (continued) Purposes of ex post facto banProtect private individuals by ensuring that legislatures give fair warning about what is criminalPrevent legislatures from passing arbitrary and vindictive laws
12 Void for Vagueness Doctrine Purpose similar to ex post facto banStrike down laws that fail to give fair warning as to what is prohibitedStrike down laws that allow arbitrary and discriminatory administration of criminal justiceDerives from 5th Amendment (applicable to Feds) and 14th Amendment (applicable to States) due process requirement
13 Lanzetta v. New Jersey (1939) Fair notice requirement of LanzettaObjective test:Would an ordinary, reasonable person know that what he was doing was criminal.No one may be required, at peril of life, liberty or property to speculate as to the meaning of penal statutes.
14 Defining Void for Vagueness Regardless of what test is used to determine if a statute violates the void for vagueness due process requirement, there is the issue of defining what a vague statute is“Condemned to the use of words, we can never expect mathematical certainty from our language”--US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall
15 Void for Vagueness – Burden of Proof Presumption of constitutionalityIf there is a doubt whether the statute is vague or not, then assume that it is NOT vague (presume that it does not violate the constitution)In effect, this requires the criminal defendant to prove the law is vague… (It is presumed to be not vague)
16 State v. Metzger (1982)The language of the Lincoln Nebraska Municipal Code called into question:“It shall be unlawful for any person within the City of Lincoln…to commit any Indecent, Immodest or Filthy Act in the presence of any person, or in such a situation that persons passing might ordinarily see the same”
17 Equal Protection Clause 14th Amendment (applies to States)Doesn’t require government to treat everybody the sameWhen criminal laws distinguish between groups of people, the court will examine the characteristics of the selected group and decide how closely to examine the law
18 Equal Protection Clause (continued) When classification is “non-suspect” class then the courts will give the statute “normal scrutiny”As long as the state has a “rational basis” for treating the groups differently then the law won’t be said to violate the Equal Protection ClauseExamples:Treating habitual criminals more harshly than first time offendersTreating minors differently than adults for the purpose of possession/consumption of alcohol
19 Equal Protection Clause (continued) Rational basis is often tied to the state’s interest in maintaining the public health and welfare of the citizens of the state
20 Equal Protection Clause (continued) Racial Classifications = “strict scrutiny”In practice, strict scrutiny means that racial classifications are never justifiedAny statute that invidiously classifies similarly situated people on the basis of immutable characteristics with which they were born. . . always violates the ConstitutionState would have to show a compelling state interest for treating group differently (and it can not)
21 Equal Protection Clause (continued) Gender classifications - “heightened scrutiny”State must show a fair and substantial relationship between classification based on gender and a legitimate state endMichael M. v. Superior Court of Sonoma County (1971) Crime for a male only…The court upheld “An act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a female not the wife of the perpetrator, where the female is under the age of 18 years” as “sufficiently related to the state’s objectives as to pass constitutional muster”
22 Bill of Rights and the Criminal Law: First Amendment First Amendment includesFree speechReligionAssociationThere is a ban on making crime out of conduct which is an exercise of the individual’s First Amendment rights
23 Free Speech Congress can’t make a law limiting freedom of speech Applied to States in Gitlow v. New York (1925)Expansive definition of speechNot just spoken or written wordsIncludes expressive conductIncludes symbolic speechIncludes, to some extent, commercial speech
24 Free Speech 5 Categories of speech not protected by the 1st Amendment: ObscenityProfanityLibel and slanderFighting wordsClear and present dangerWhy?Slight value, any benefit is outweighed by social interest in order and morality
25 Free SpeechVoid for Overbreadth doctrine gives teeth to the protectionAny laws which are written so broadly that fear of prosecution creates a “chilling effect” that discourages people from exercising their freedom of speech violate the constitution
26 R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992)A juvenile burned a cross on a black family’s lawn, and was charged under St Paul Minnesota's Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance which provided:“anyone who places a burning cross, Nazi swastika, or other symbol on private or public property knowing that the symbol would arouse anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, or gender commits disorderly conduct and shall be guilty of a misdemeanor”
27 R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992)The US Supreme Court concluded that the ordinance violated the first Amendment, as it would allow the proponents of racial tolerance and equality to use fighting words to argue in favor of tolerance, but would prohibit similar use by opponents to racial tolerance and equality.
28 People v. Rokicki (1999)The hate crime statute is not unconstitutional when the predicate offense is disorderly conduct because:The statute reaches only conduct and does not punish speech itselfThe statute does not impermissibly discriminate based on content, andThe statute does not chill the exercise of first amendment rights
29 Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. et. Al. (1991) Although nude dancing is recognized as expressive conduct, the public indecency statue is justified because it “furthers a substantial government interest in protecting order and morality” The ban on public nudity was not related to the erotic message the dancers wanted to send
30 Texas v. Johnson (1989)A divided US Supreme court recognized Flag burning as expressive conduct
31 Right to PrivacyFound in the penumbra of the Constitution (not in any specific clause or amendment)Recognized as a Fundamental Right, so government needs a compelling interest to invade itOriginates from six separate amendments:1st, 3rd, 4th, 9th, 5th, and 14th AmendmentsRight to be left alone by the government
32 Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) The first US Supreme Court case that specifically recognized the fundamental constitutional right to privacy when it struck down a Connecticut statute that made it a crime for married couples to use contraceptives.
33 Stanley v. Georgia (1969)A government intrusion into the privacy of a home for an individual’s mere possession of pornography is unwarranted.
34 Lawrence v. Texas (2003)Consenting adults have a fundamental right to engage in private sexual activity, including consensual sodomy.
35 Second Amendment: Right to Bear Arms Few casesLots of regulationsHot debates between gun rights and gun control activistsU.S. v. Emerson (2001) decision from 5th CircuitIndividuals not in militia can privately possess and bear own firearms (ones suitable as personal, individual weapons)
36 District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) The first successful 2nd amendment challenge in 207 years, struck down the DC code provision banning possession of handguns and the requirement that firearms in the home be kept nonfunctional.
37 Right to Bear arms (continued) Importance of Heller caseRenders irrelevant the wording in 2nd Amendment concerning militiaChicago handgun prohibitions have been struck down since this text was publishedAlameda County (CA) case remains pendingLimits of Heller caseQualified right to possession of a handgun by law-abiding citizen, in home, for purpose of protection
38 8th Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause Constitutional Limits on SentencingCruel and unusual punishments should not be inflictedCruel and unusual:Barbaric punishmentDisproportionate punishment
39 Barbaric Punishment No longer acceptable to a civilized society: burning at stakecrucifixionbreaking on the wheeltorturinglingering deathdrawing and quarteringrack and screwextreme forms of solitary confinement
40 In re Kemmler (1890)Electrocution “unusual” but not cruel. According to the court, punishment by death isn’t cruel as long as it isn’t something more than the “mere extinguishment of life”Requirements of a lawful execution:Instantaneous and painlessCan not involve unnecessary mutilation of the body
41 Principle of Proportionality Punishment should fit the crimeCases:Weems v. US – 15 years prison with hard labor and lifetime forfeiture of civil rights was disproportionate for falsifying public documentRobinson v. California (1962) – 90 day sentence for drug addiction was disproportionate because addiction is an illness, and its cruel and unusual to punish someone for being sick
42 Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008)The US Supreme Court held that Consistent with “evolving standards of decency” and the teachings of our precedents, there is a distinction between intentional first degree murder and nonhomicide crimes including child rape…In terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public, they cannot be compared to murder in severity and irrevocability.
43 Atkins v. Virginia (2002)The US Supreme Court ruled that executing anyone that proved the three elements in the American Association on Mental Retardation applied to them violated the ban on cruel and unusual punishment:Substantial intellectual impairmentThe impairment impacts the everyday life of the retarded individualRetardation is present at birth or during childhood
44 Trop v. Dulles (1958)In the case of a war time army deserter who lost his citizenship, The US Supreme Court first adopted the “evolving standards” test to decide which sentences ran afoul of the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society”
45 Roper v. Simmons (2005)In the case of a Juvenile Carjacker who murdered his victim, the US Supreme Court decided that the execution of a juvenile offended “standards of decency” in our society:“When a juvenile offender commits a heinous crime, the State can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity.”--US Supreme Court Justice Kennedy
46 Summary of Cruel and Unusual Punishment claims - Death Penalty Death penalty is barbaric if is something more than instantaneous and painless; it cannot involve unnecessary mutilation of the bodyLethal injection scrutiny by courts inDeath penalty is disproportionate for rape of child victim (Kennedy v. Louisiana)Death penalty for mentally retarded offenders is cruel and unusual punishmentDeath penalty for offenders who were under 18 at the time they committed the murder is cruel and unusual punishment
47 Disproportionate Sentences of Imprisonment Solem v. Helm (1983) A Deeply divided US Supreme Court held that a criminal sentence must be proportionate to the crime for which defendant has been convicted
48 Ewing v. California (2003)In the case of a recidivist felon, convicted of stealing three golf clubs, The US Supreme Court Upheld California’s Three-strikes legislation, and ruled that a sentence of 25 – life was constitutional (not “grossly” disproportionate). The court cited a “rational legislative judgment” that offenders who have committed serious or violent felonies, and continue to do so must be incapacitated for public safety.
49 Mandatory Minimum Sentences Judges impose non-discretionary minimum of prison time that all offenders have to serveFixed (determinate) sentences—length of sentences determined by the seriousness of the offense (determined by legislators in advance of the crime)Sentencing guidelines—ranges of penalties from which judges choose a specific (presumptive) sentence within the rangeSentence outside that range is a “departure”
50 Appendi v. New Jersey (2000)In the case of a gunman who fired several .22 caliber bullets into the home of a black family, the US Supreme Court struck down a statute which authorized judges to increase the maximum sentence based on facts proved by a “preponderance” of evidence (Not meeting the Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Requirement for Criminal Proceedings)The Appendi Rule--Before judge can give an upward departure sentence based on aggravating factors, a jury must determine the existence of those factors beyond a reasonable doubt
51 Blakely v. Washington (2004) The US Supreme Court struck down a Washington State statute that authorized a judge to increase prison time based on facts not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This decision held that Sentencing guidelines, to the extent that they allow for judges to impose departure sentences without jury findings are unconstitutional
52 U.S. v. Booker (2005)The US Supreme Court struck down provisions of the US Sentencing Guidelines allowing judges to increase individual sentences based on facts not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The court held that the Federal Sentencing Guideline structure was unconstitutional if mandatory, but it may be used as a guide for judges
53 Gall v. U.S. (2007)Since federal sentencing guidelines are advisory, the appellate court needs to determine if the imposed sentence was reasonable. The appellate courts need to give deference to the sentencing judge and only overturn sentences when the sentencing judge abused his or her discretion
54 Summary of Role of Jury in Sentencing Before judge can give an upward departure sentence based on aggravating factors, a jury must determine the existence of those factors beyond a reasonable doubt (Apprendi rule)Sentencing guidelines, to the extent that they allow for judges to impose departure sentences without jury findings are unconstitutional (Blakely)Federal Sentencing Guideline structure was unconstitutional if mandatory, but may be used as a guide for judges (Booker)Since federal sentencing guidelines are advisory, the appellate court needs to determine if the imposed sentence was reasonable. The appellate courts need to give deference to the sentencing judge and only overturn sentences when the sentencing judge abused his or her discretion (Gall)
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