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Criminal Law - 2021 Outline - Part 5

Download the PDF version of this outline

<< Part 4 | Part 6 >>

Cases

  • Mental State | People v. McChristian IL Ct App. 1974
    • Gang rivals and shoot out (of 5 men in car) ; say to the other “we’ll get you next time”; prosecutes several for conspiracy to commit murder+ attempted murder (which jury drops)
    • Rule: to prove it is a conspiracy, state must prove specific intent/common design to murder EACH of the five men.
    • Holding: reversed: no evidence to prove common design/shared intent
  • US v. Bruno - 2d Cir. 1939
    • Typically drug rink distribution conspiracy case. Peru -> NY then to LA and TX; smaller ∆’s arguing they can’t be liable bc they didn’t know the big guy
      • Note: Charged as one conspiracy: actually 3 (Peru/NY, NY/LA, NY/TX)
    • Holding: They can all be charged together bc success of one depended on success as whole; even if smugglers and retailers (LA/TX) didnt’ communicate, they knew of each other’s existence
  • The Agreement | Direct Sales Co. v. US - SCOTUS 1943 Implied agreement
    • VERY famous case; legal acts of drug distributor (knew that client was selling illegally and continued); Is ∆ G of conspiracy to violate fed drug act
    • Falcone Rule: One doesn’t become a party to conspiracy by A&A through legal sales UNLESS he knows of the conspiracy (and inference can’t be drawn from knowledge buyer using goods illegally) - weren’t restricted commodities
    • Holding: Direct Sales knew of the conspiracy + harmful articles = lower burden
    • Some argue this is exact same as Falcone case: did they get it wrong?
    • Rule: No explicit agreement needed to make conspiracy
  • State v. St. Christopher - Minn 1975: Unilateral v. Bilateral
    • ∆ asked cousin to kill ∆’s mom; cousin didn’t intend to, worked with police
    • Issue: Does conspiracy need 2 people to agree/share intent?
    • Holding: Allows for unilateral approach according to MPC
  • Object of the Agreement | Commonwealth v. Donoghue - KY Ct. App 1933
    • Loanshark charging usurious rates, took advantage of poor; charged w/ conspiracy
    • Rule: You cannot charge a conspiracy w/o an actual crime
    • The “Crime” was charging usurious rates
  • Completed Offense | Albernaz v. US - SCOTUS 1981
    • 4 charges: consp. to import mj + consp. Distribute + underlying crimes
    • Rule: when same act/transaction violates 2 dif conspiracy statutes; its okay if each requires a proof of fact that the other does not
  • The FAMOUS Case | Pinkerton v. US - SCOTUS 1946 Complicity Doctrine
    • Rule: Co-conspirator liability: you can held liable for any of your co-conspirators crimes if you haven’t EFFECTIVELY withdrawn (he was just in prison, wasn’t a withdrawal)
    • As long as all the crimes are FORESEEABLE
    • Criticism: “Dragnet” allows gov. to convict ppl 4 crimes they didn’t know ab
  • Pinkerton instruction: if jury finds 1) conspiracy existed 2) ∆ was member, then ∆ can be liable for crimes committed by co-conspirators in furtherance of consp.

Unilateral Approach

  • MPC requirement: only one party needs to agree
  • establishes liability individually
  • If agreement being feigned by one side- can still convict
  • Marcus says: this is just solicitation.

Bi-lateral approach

  • Common law req+ Federal Law
  • Says conspiracy must be 2+ ppl agree
  • Issue: Under this approach: If X + Y charged with conspiracy to commit murder, and Y found NG, then traditionally, X NG
  • ct gets around this by saying conspiracy bt X + unknown others

Defenses Burden of Proof: (Except Insanity)
  1. All states - ∆ must raise issue w/ production of evidence
  2. Then ½ states: ∆ must prove defense w/ preponderance of evidence
  3. OR ½ BOP of gov’t to disprove defense beyond reasonable doubt
Defense of Self / Others Defense of Self

Majority Approach

  1. Imminent danger- Subj.
  2. Imminent Danger- Obj
  3. Amt of Force was needed- Subj.
  4. Amt of force was needed - obj
    • You don’t have to be right, just reasonable (mistakes allowed)

Common Law Approach

  1. Subjective reasonable person standard
    * No state has adopted
  • People v. Goetz - NY Ct App 1986 Reasonable person or reasonable
    • 4 youths approach ∆, ask for money; he shoots them; paralyzes one; ∆ charged w/ attempted murder; issue of past robbery (PTSD)
    • Issue: is SD subjective or objective belief force is needed
    • Holding: In NY, it is the objective standard (but jury can use surrounding circumstances of ∆ to determine if it is reasonable given those facts)
      • Hmm… is that not imposing a bit of a subjective standard?
  • State v. Rupp - Iowa 1979 - No duty to retreat if it is life-threatening
    • Fight at bar, victim charges at ∆, shoots him and flees; history of bad blood and threats bt two
    • Issue: did trial ct err in not including that ∆ doesn’t have duty to retreat if it involves a risk to his life? Court says YES. ∆ allowed to stand ground if risk
  • Commonwealth v. Shaffer - MA Sup. Ct. 1975 - Duty to Retreat
    • Fiancé shot by wife (∆); he threatened her and the kids; she shot when he came down stairs
    • Issue: she wants MA to apply stand your ground rule: if not, she says she retreated to the wall (but she could have called 911, left thru basement door, he had no weapon, she was experienced w/ it)
    • No castle doctrine in this case bc cohabitants
    • Note: opinion notes location increasingly imp. 2 determine reasonability
    • Rule: sticks by no SD until availed self of all alternative ways to avoid
  • State v. Pride - MO Ct. App. 1978
    • Victim robbed at truck stop; hands gun to man; he shoots at fleeing felons who shoot back (∆)
    • ∆ claims SD bc he was being shot at; court rejects this
  • Battered Woman Syndrome | Bechtel v. State - OK 1992
    • Issue: should testimony of battered women’s syndrome be allowed
    • Reasonability and BWS: changes the standard bc she knows of the danger better than others (can see signs it’s coming); what is not normally overt show of violence can be to her; learned helplessness/psychological paralysis
    • What can an expert testify/not testify to?
      • She can testify that it is a real diagnosis; explain cycle of abuse; how it affects perception
      • What she cannot testify to: if the ∆ acted reasonably or not
    • Rule: court reverses decision, remands to be heard w/ testimony (and changes the reasonable person standard to add language relevant subjective to BWS- but doesn’t change anything)
    • Dissent: there doesn’t need to be any BWS testimony in this case bc this is typical self-defense; no change to language was needed for this case; if we are going to add that, the legislature should do it.
    • Prevailing view: no new defense w/ this case; just reemphasizes SD
    • Q: W/ BWS: does it apply against all ppl or just her abuser? Who else could get this treatment (PTSD/Holocaust syndrome?) Same case as Goetz?
  • Self-Defense w/ Wrongful Arrest | People v. Cherry - NY Ct. App 1954
    • Right to self-defend against wrongful arrest: this court says YES.
    • Rule: if you believe it is an illegal arrest (even by uniformed officer) you can resist
      • At time, this was common law - but you had to be RIGHT ab the wrongful arrest
    • Now: Almost all courts say NO. Increases risk; if wrongful arrest, deal w/ it in court
      • Rule now: If reasonable person would believe if it is a police officer, you have no right to resist, even if it is an unreasonable arrest
        • EXCEPT: if excessive force- u can use force (ex=Floyd)
  • State v. Fair - NJ 1965 - Defense of Others
    • Guy friend intervened; stabbed abusive bf; all were drunk
    • Issue: Did trial ct fail in failing to instruct on defense of others? “Yes.”
Two Rules W/ Who Has the Power to Intervene
  1. Alter ego: ∆ steps into shoes of the defended party
    1. 3d party has right if the assumed victim would have right
  2. Objective test: intervening party is bound only to own intent (MPC)
    1. One who intervenes under a reasonable belief he is protecting another who he believes is being unlawfully assaulted is to be exonerated
    2. Encourages bystanders to intervene w/o threat of conviction
    3. Same subjective/objective test as SD but w/ 3d person instead of self
Common Law: Retreat to the Wall
  • Do everything you can before deadly force
  • However, if escape is perilous, you can use deadly force

Castle Doctrine: One who, through no fault of his own, is attacked in his own home has no duty to retreat

  • Can only be invoked by one w/ no fault (can’t be bc of a fight)
  • Privilege of non-retreat from own property (exception to duty to retreat)
  • Oftentimes extends past 4 corners of home (some states, your yard, others - porch)
  • Intersection between defense of habitation and SD
  • Not usually a thing when other person is cohabitant
  • The felony doesn’t need to be forceful or atrocious (as it does typically w/ SD)

Stand your ground: No duty to retreat

  • Aba has decided these laws increase homicides/don’t deter violent crimes
  • Huge racial impact
  • States are urged to repeal them (they don’t except when cops say to)
  • Only against the offender (sill L if a bystander dies)
Defense of Property (Subcategory of SD)

Cases:

  • People v. Cebellos - Cal. 1974 - Trap Guns
    • Trap gun kills 16 yo burglar
    • Rule: only justified if they would have been justified to use SD if present

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