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Presentation on theme: "CRIMINAL LAW SUMMER 2011 TA SESSION NOTES Chapter 5 Mental State."— Presentation transcript:


2 MODES OF CULPABILITY Specific Intent Purposely Knowingly General Intent Recklessly Negligently Strict Liability

3 IN THE MATTER OF RONNIE L. VOLUNTARINESS V. MENTAL STATES Juvenile Ronnie L. was charged with criminally possessing a loaded handgun in the 3 rd degree. Strict liability offense – does not matter if he knowingly possessed the drugs. No mental state required Statute: Voluntary act as awareness of possession or control thereof for sufficient time to terminate Defendant had awareness of the object: Statement – not mine Weight of the object in pocket Voluntary act is being aware of possession

4 WILLFUL IGNORANCE AND CONSCIOUS AVOIDANCE Pg. 310 Having a conscious purpose to disregard or avoid learning the truth. E.g. A mothers son brings home a new car and other lavish gifts despite not having any legal means of income. The mother does not ask questions as to where the money comes from for these expensive gifts. If son is found to be a drug dealer and ultimately charged. The mother could also be charged with willful ignorance. Ostrich – Judge informs jury that if person ignored what they saw then they are deemed to have knowledge.

5 CONCURRENCE Requires a union or joint operation between actus reus and mens rea Act and mental state must concur. Criminal conduct and criminal intent must concur. Must concur in time and by offense.

6 REGINA V. FAULKNER CONCURRENCE D was convicted for setting fire to a ship on the high seas (arson). State required act to be done intentionally and willfully OR recklessly. Setting fire to the ship was accidental. Conviction was reversed because the jury was given a mandatory instruction directing them to find D guilty even though fire was accidental.

7 MISTAKE Mistake of fact is not a defense in a strict liability offense. Can be used as a defense if it negates the mental state that is a material element of the offense. MPC: Ignorance or mistake as to a matter of fact or law is a defense if the ignorance or mistake negates the purpose, knowledge, belief, recklessness or negligence required to establish a material element of the offense. Mistake of law is no defense to criminal conduct. EXCEPT: If not known to the actor AND has not been published or reasonably made available.

8 UNITED STATES V. BAKER MISTAKE D was convicted of trafficking in counterfeit goods D admits k nowing that the Rolex watches that he sold were counterfeit. Statute – K nowingly use counterfeit mark. D argued he had no knowledge his conduct was criminal. IGNORANCE of the law is no DEFENSE.

9 COMMONWEALTH V. DOANE D was tried for stealing property from a shipment that he helped unload. D wanted to offer evidence (inadmissible) that it was a custom to take a small part of the cargo. It was also inadmissible evidence that others had committed the same offense. Such a custom was neither a legal custom nor a legal defense.

10 LAMBERT V. CALIFORNIA D was convicted of violating a L.A. ordinance requiring any convicted person to register with the police within 5 days of arriving in the city. Court held that ignorance of the law will not excuse a wrongdoer. Due process requires notice of duty to register. Due process requires actual knowledge or proof of the probability of knowledge of duty to register and subsequent failure to register as necessary elements for a valid conviction.

11 INTOXICATION Voluntary intoxication is NO DEFENSE to a crime. Voluntary intoxication can negate intent element of a crime, even if it can not excuse conduct that is otherwise criminal. Specific Intent Only No defense to STRICT LIABILITY offense. Drunkenness is no excuse for criminal conduct.

12 STATE V. CAMERON INTOXICATION Voluntary intoxication is admissible to disprove the requisite mental state of a purposely or knowingly act. Intoxication is a defense to a specific intent (purposely or knowingly) crime, but not to one involving general intent (reckless or criminal negligence). To qualify as a defense, intoxication must be extremely high. RULE : Intoxication must be to the level of prostration of the faculties such that D was rendered incapable of forming an intent. D must be completely incapacitated or to the point of extreme exhaustion.


14 CHAPTER 1 & 2 Traditional Rationales Modes of Punishment: How to Punish Collateral Effects of Punishment Role of Victims What is Punishment? Kansas v. Hendricks What to Punish? Overview of Criminal Procedure

15 CHAPTER 3 Justification – Illegality of Act Excuse – Guilt of Actor Dudley & Stephens Actus rea Mens rea Justification v. Excuse

16 CHAPTER 4 Actus reas + mens rea = criminal conduct. Offense elements Types of Defenses Burden of Proof Patterson v. NY Presumptions People v. Leyva Acts v. Thoughts Act v. Status People v. Davis Voluntary v. Involuntary State v. Tippets Omissions General rule State v. Miranda Exceptions (4) Kuntz v. Montana Exception (1) Possession Dominion/Control Simple v. Compound People v. Lee Actual v. Constructive People v. Rivera People v. Valot Sole v. Joint

17 CHAPTER 5 Modes of Culpability In the Matter of Ronnie L. Willful Ignorance & Conscious Avoidance Concurrence Regina v. Faulkner Mistake Intoxication State v. Cameron

18 A LITTLE PRACTICE Problem 1: Bert intends to murder Ernie. Is Bert subject to criminal liability for his intent alone? Answer: NO. Intent is a state of mind and, with nothing more, it is not criminal.

19 A LITTLE PRACTICE Problem 2: Under what circumstances is a person said to act recklessly? a. Knowing that the criminally proscribed result is practically certain to occur b. When he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk. c. When there is an intent to bring about the criminally proscribed result d. Reasonable person would foresee a substantial and unjustifiable risk.

20 A LITTLE PRACTICE Problem 3: Brian, a champion swimmer, is lounging on a riverbank, reading John Stuart Mills autobiography. Stewie, Brians sworn enemy, strolls up, in his swim trunks, and goes for a dip in the river. In fact the water is deeper than Stewie expected, and he begins to drown. Brian looks up from his book, ad watches, laughing, as Stewie drowns. When Stewie goes down for the last time, Brian sighs, and says: Oh well. Back to the Mill. Could Brian be liable for Stewies death? Answer: No, because he was under no duty to act. Brians intense dislike for Stewie is irrelevant, since bad thoughts alone are not punishable.

21 A LITTLE PRACTICE Problem 4: Peter and Lois Griffin, husband and wife, are ice skating on Golden Pond, when Peter falls through the ice. Lois skates away knowing that no one else is close enough to save him. Is Lois guilty of murder? Answer: Yes, because she omitted to act where she had a legal duty (husband-wife relationship), she was apparently able to help, and her intentional omission proximately caused Peters death.

22 A LITTLE PRACTICE Problem 5: Mary Jane buys what she believes is a dime bag of Marijuana from a notorious pimp. In fact, the bag contains oregano. Mary Jane is arrested under a statute proscribing the knowing possession of narcotics. Does the fact that the substance was oregano mean that Mary Jane has not committed the physical act of possession? (For the purposes of this question, ignore the mental state). Answer: No. Mary Jane satisfies the act requirement of the crime because of her conscious possession; this requires knowledge of the mere physical object itself, but not the specific quality or properties of the object.

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