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Majority: In interpreting whether a phrase such as “carries a firearm” should be narrowly limited to carrying on the person while trafficking drugs, or in the vehicle of a car, the court looked at legislative history and purpose to rule that it should not be interpreted so narrowly.
In Martin, a statute prohibiting “any person… while intoxicated… to appear in public,” the court found that it was not enough for the defendant to simply to have been in public while intoxicated in order to satisfy the actus reus component of the statute, he must have voluntarily committed the act of being drunk in public.
In Utter, a statute defining “homicide is the killing of a human being by the act,”the defendant was not able to establish sufficient evidence that his actions was automated so as to not be considered a conscious voluntary act when he consumed alcohol which triggered his automated attack on his son.
In Decina, the defendant was found to have the requisite actus rea because although he did not voluntarily have an epileptic seizure, rendering him unconscious and striking pedestrians, his awareness of his condition coupled with the disregard by getting into the car was a voluntary actus reus.
In Beardsley, the defendant was found to only have a moral obligation, but not a legal duty to prevent the death of the victim simply because they spent the night together and he did not aid the victim in causing her own death. * Negligent Manslaughter*
In Jones, the court laid out four situations in which omitting to act would constitute a breach of one’s duty to act, (1) when a statute imposes a duty, (2) if there is a certain status relationship to another, (3) if one has voluntarily assumed duty of care or (5) if the person creates the risk.
D was passenger in the car that her boyfriend stole, and at points alone in the car, during which time she heard loud banging coming from the trunk because her boyfriend placed car owner inside the drunk, who died after five days. Nix claimed she had no duty, so did not act. If no act, then we must look at whether a duty was owed.
In Conley, where the statute required that “a person must intend to bring about the particular harm in the statute,” and D contends that he only meant to hit the victim and not permanently disable him, the state was able to prove that D intended to inflict permanent disability when by the ordinary presumption one intends the natural and probable consequences of his actions.
In order to prove ”knowledge” of the existence of a particular fact is an element of an offense, the prosecution had to show beyond a reasonable doubt that D was aware of a high probability of its existence and they only proved that D was willfully blind. i.e. D had to be actually aware that victim was under 17, not just a high probability that she was under 17.
Although D knew he was using a social security that did not belong to him, he didn’t know it belonged to someone else. Because “knowingly” had to apply to every material element of the offense, prosecution did not prove mens rea requirement of the statute.
Court held that intent element of “knowingly” applied to all subparts of a statute including the phrase “use of a minor” when it appeared in latter parts of a statute criminalizing child porn.
Public welfare offense doctrine says that (1) if punishment of the wrongdoer far outweighs regulation of social order as a purpose of law, then the mens rea is probably required and (2) if the penalty is light, involving a small fine and not including imprisonment, then mens rea probably is not required. (Victimless crimes and administrative-esque crimes)
Court held that the mens rea element of “knowingly converts … any thing of the United States.” must apply to knowingly taking the bomb casting, and knowing castings still belonged the the government. Thus, defendant thinking they were abandoned was not enough to prove mens rea. You can imply the intent if the offense is a common law crime that doesn’t list the mens rea.
If defendant in good faith believed that what he was doing was not a violation of the statute, even though such belief was unreasonable, as measured by the reasonable man objective standard, the defendant would be acquitted because he mistakenly believed that beams were worthless and owner wouldn’t care. This did not prove that defendant had intent to steal under the statute.
While the mastermind of the plot did have the requisite mens rea required (intent to deprive property) the defendant was simply the instrumentality to commit the crime and thus because he did not have intent to deprive, he did not have the requisite mens rea.
Under the Moral Wrong Doctrine, Even if an actor’s mistake of act is reasonable his intentional commission of the immoral act serves as blameworthiness for conviction. Thus, the although P reasonably believed female was 18, his immoral conduct assumed the risk that unbeknownst to him, the attendant circumstances were not as he believed them to be.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse so it will not stand that because defendant was not aware that statute did not apply to federal corrections officers he should not be convicted. Otherwise it would encourage infinite number of mistake of law defense.
Due Process requires that the defendant have notice of the statute. Notice is required in situations where a penalty or forfeiture might be suffered for mere failure to act e.g. (1) crime of omission, (2) status crime and (3) malum prohibitum crime
Defendant was issued a new trial for assault in the second degree because the court found that if child was already going to die from the initial harm, under the acceleration theory, must have accelerated the child’s death.
To be a proximate cause, the victim’s injury must be a direct and natural result of the defendant’s actions. If an intervening cause is foreseeable based on an objective standard of reasonableness, then the intervening cause will be a proximate cause of the victim’s injury. If the victim has been struck by the car as he was exiting the car from the collision, then the causal chain would have remained intact, but because he made the voluntary decision to return to the vehicle on the roadway, this was a superseding cause breaking the causal chain.
The court found that the defendant’s conduct of challenging the victim to a drag race was only an actual cause, but not a proximate cause because the victim himself drove recklessly and therefore it would have been unjust to hold the defendant criminally responsible.
When the defendant was charged with involuntary manslaughter after hitting a pedestrian who died as he was dragged away under the car as driver attempted to leave. The court ruled that he was not negligent because under the statute he must have negligently struck the pedestrian, which he did not, and therefore, he would only have been negligent if the pedestrian was proven to have died only after impact when the driver drove away. Because the pedestrian could have died on impact, there was not enough evidence to show that the death was a proximate cause of driver’s negligence if he was already dead when he was being dragged.
The court in this case interpreted the mens rea element of the statute of “willful, deliberate, and premeditated,’ to mean that if killing was done after a time for prior consideration, which the duration for this time is not fixed, and as long as the defendant is fully conscious and aware of what he intended then it would have been sufficient for first degree murder. Thus, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction.
In this case, where the statute for first degree murder required the mens rea of “premeditated and deliberate purpose of causing death of another,” the defendant was not convicted of 1st Degree Murder because he intended to further abuse his son, not kill him.
The Rule of provocation set out by the state in this case required that “there must have been adequate provocation” in order to be convicted of voluntary manslaughter, in which the court found that provocation is considered adequate when it is “calculated to inflame the passion of a reasonable man and tend to cause him to act for the moment from passion rather than reason.” It was not adequate in this case when defendant's girlfriend provoked the defendant with harsh words because words are never adequate provocation unless accompanied by an intent and ability to cause harm, but some adequate provocations include: Assault/Battery, Mutual Combat, Illegal Arrest, Injury to a close relative, and discovery of spousal adultery, because even though what the person did was wrong, they are not morally blameworthy.
The provocation defense is unavailable to the defendant who kills the victim after he has a “reasonable opportunity for the passion to cool.” i.e. after a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have calmed down.
In determining whether the extreme emotional disturbance defense could be raised as an affirmative defense to reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter in the first degree, the court had to determine whether it was reasonable under the circumstances. They defined reasonable as, “determined from the viewpoint of the person in the defendant’s situation as the defendant believed them to be” but ultimately found that because the defendant killed based on a disturbance that was created in the defendant’s own mind, it was not reasonable.
The driver, angry because someone burglarized his apartment, speeded through the intersection despite seeing oncoming car, and he also had a red light, but he was going to fast to stop. He claimed that he did not intend to kill anyone and was simply going too fast and thus was charged with second degree murder.
The court found that because of the the nonviolent nature of the defendant’s felony i.e. committed on sunday, no one around, in the parking lot, not armed and not expecting to be violent, it would not serve the purpose of the felony murder rule that is supposed to deter those engaged in felonies from killing negligently or accidentally, However, felony murder is a strict liability offense that punishes deaths committed in the course of an enumerated felony whether the killing was caused intentionally, negligently, or accidentally and thus defendant could be prosecuted for first degree murder.
When the defendant was already in police custody and the friend was in flight from a felony, the police shot and killed the friend. Under the res gestae doctrine, “during” in the statute also included in flight from a felony, but the death had to be proximately caused by the defendant, which they found it did not because killing resulted from lawful acts of a police officer attempting to apprehend his friend while defendant was already in police custody. Thus, defendant not responsible for the death. Agency Theory: each of us acts as an agent and it limited to the scope of the offense.
When the defendant was convicted of attempted murder for dumping gasoline on his girlfriend, and she ignited when going into kitchen, the statute stated that “a person must have specific intent to commit offense and do an act that constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of the offense.” Thus, simply knowing or having a depraved heart is not considered intent for attempt and therefore defendant was acquitted because no attempt for unintentional murders.
Under the Cox Rule, a criminal attempt consists of specific intent to commit the offense couple with some overt act in furtherance of the intent which goes beyond mere preparation. Thus, when defendant shot victim during felony robbery of his shoe store, the court held that because felony murder requires no intent to kill, and attempt to requires intent, they could not be convicted of attempted felony murder.
Factual Impossibility Defense exists when the defendant’s intended end constitutes a crime but fails to consummate it because of a factual circumstance unknown to her or beyond her control. e.g. pointing a loaded gun at someone and pulling the trigger, where defendant believed the gun was loaded.
Legal Impossibility exists when actor engages in conduct that he believes is criminal, but is not actually prohibited by law. e.g. thinking the age of consent was 17, defendant knowingly had sex with 16 year old, when the legal age of consent was actually 15. Even though defendant thought it was illegal, it really wasn’t.
Because Defendant charged with distribution of obscene material to a minor, but was actually chatting with a law enforcement agent, the court found it was legally impossible for the defendant to have committed an offense of attempting to distribute the material to a minor because person was not a minor.
Under the Coplon Test, attempt is committed when actor has done all that is within his power to do, but he has been prevented by intervention.
When three defendants attempted to rob a bank, one dressed as a female, the police were tipped off to these details and set up surveillance only to see three people drive past the bank. One of the persons was dressed as a female, but the three defendants went into a drug store across the street and turn around and left. The defendants were not convicted because (1) no defendant came closer than 50 feet to the bank, (2) their casing the bank was just speculation without a statement, (3) their weapons weren’t focused on the bank.
When the defendant was charged with attempt to commit second degree murder for planning to poison their homeroom teacher and bringing the poison to school, the court had to determine what constituted a substantial step based on a statute that was modeled after the MPC. The court held that substantial step in the statute, which stated, “person’s entire course of action is corroborative of the intent to commit the offense…” was taken when (1) the actors possesses materials to be used in the commission of a crime, at or near the scene of the crime, and (2) where the possession of the materials serve no other lawful purpose under the circumstances.
Voluntary Abandonment, negates the conclusion that the accused continues to be dangerous so affirmative defense. Court held that although prisoner engaged in preparation and scaled fense to the rec yard and the prisoner wall, he only went so far as the yard before changing his mind and giving up the act. Therefore, he did not go far enough to attempt the act.
A co-conspirator is liable for the completed crimes of another that are undertaken in furtherance of the scope of the conspiracy. Although Daniel did not participate the substantive offense of tax evasion, under the Pinkerton Liability, he was guilty because he did not take affirmative action to withdraw from the conspiracy.
Expanded Pinkerton Liability to a co-conspirator is liable for the completed crimes of another that are undertaken in furtherance of the conspiracy, provided the result could be reasonably foreseen as a necessary or natural consequence of the unlawful agreement. When an abortionist performed illegal abortions on pregnant women sent to him by Anderson and other conspirators who received fees for their referrals, Anderson was found guilty of conspiracy to perform abortions.
When B agreed to buy one kilo of cocaine from X. Charged with conspiracy to possess more than 650g of cocaine. But X defrauded him only 26g of cocaine. Because B intends to get the cocaine, he still did conspire to possess the cocaine even if the attendant circumstances were not as he believed. He is also guilty of attempt. If X intended to give 26g of cocaine, then X is guilty of conspiracy because conspiracy is completed at the time of the agreement. If X intended to defraud all along then there is no conspiracy because no agreement.
The court held that conspiracy may be inferentially established by showing relationship, conduct or circumstances of the parties. These included (1) associations with alleged conspirators, (2) knowledge of the commission of the crime, (3) presence at the scene of the crime, (4) participation in the object of the conspiracy. Because the defendant drove the codefendants to the scene of a crime and then later picked them up, he was not simply a hired driver without the knowledge of his co-defendant's criminal activity.
The court held that just because the defendant aided and abetted the crime, especially where no prior planning occurred, this would only make the actor liable for the substantive offense, but not in the crime of commit conspiracy of the offense. Neither association with [a criminal] nor knowledge of illegal activity constitute proof of participation in a conspiracy.
“Withdraw from a conspiracy requires an affirmative and bona fide rejection or repudiation of the conspiracy, communicated to all the co-conspirators.” Withdrawal merely precludes liability for subsequent acts.”
In this case, the defendant was charged as a lookout under the statute “One who is ‘by prearrangement, keeping watch to avoid interception or detection or to provide warning during the perpetration of the crimes and thereby participating in the offenses charged.’” However, The defendant must “share the criminal intent of the principal.” Even if there is some evidence that he was a lookout it does prove that he wanted to aid in larceny. We have to prove the intent to commit larceny—not just a generalized “intent to help”
Accomplice Statute: “A person is legally accountable for the conduct of another constituting an offense if (a) With intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the offense, the person (b) aids or abets the other in planning or committing the offense.” Riley only aided the conduct of recklessly shooting, not the result, so what result? Court held that Intent need only be to conduct. The mens rea as to result is the same as for the underlying crime. Because Riley intended to promote the shooting, he was reckless as to the result and thus, guilty of first degree assault via accomplice liability.
The court is split on whether guilt should be assigned on the basis of knowing or proof that the actor assisted with the purpose of facilitating the commission of the offense. Evidence of participation includes acquiring a (1) stake in the venture, (2) knowledge if no legitimate use, and (3) volume of sales.
Sometimes presence is enough to be an accomplice (as with a lookout) if is designedly encourages the perpetrator.
If an accomplice is present but does not aid or abet, he is still guilty as if he had actively participated by words or acts of encouragement.
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