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Criminal Law - Outline - Part 2

By Lindsey Jackson

Download the PDF version of this outline

<< Part 1 | Part 3 >>

III. Defining Crimes

a. Elements two ways:

i. Macro Elements – All Crimes Must Have Them
  1. If the prosecutor fails in one element, the government loses
  2. Statutes
    1. Masses of information, you must find the elements
    2. Look at other cases to check your elements
      1. Jury instructions (discerned statute)
        1. Pattern jury instructions (first thing to look at) help you find the elements
        2. Endgame is the jury
ii. Types of Macro Elements

1. Identification

  1. United States v. Chappell: Chappell allegedly robbed a bank, but there was no direct evidence to put him at the scene, only circumstantial evidence. He was seen at the dumpster where they found the clothes and mask, he rides a bike like the robber, didn’t have a job but somehow bought a car that day, a man that found him on his porch identified him, and he confessed to three fellow inmates.
    1. Overwhelming circumstantial evidence
    2. Per curium opinion – handed down by the appellate court with no one named as the author because they all three agree and it is not complicated. (doesn’t have the same amount of weight as a signed opinion; not a lot of thought given)
    3. Elements of 2113(a): bank robbery
      1. Defendant
        1. This is what the defendant contests
        2. SODDI defense: some other dude did it
        3. The one print they found was not Chappell’s and they did not recover the bait bills.
      2. Through use of intimidation, force, or violence
      3. Took money
      4. That was in possession of a bank
    4. Appellate court confirms his conviction because a reasonable juror could conclude that Chappell was the bank robber (Jackson v. Virginia standard)
    5. Rule: Circumstantial evidence can be enough for conviction.
  2. United States v. Vance: Marshall and Vance are suspected of robbing two banks and one person being shot and killed. Marshall becomes the start witness against Vance and brings up some restaurant robberies that happened before the banks. Says a .44 caliber was used in all robberies and Vance charged the counter every time. Vance claims he was not the one with him.
    1. 404(b): admission of evidence of other crimes builds prejudice and is not allowed.
      1. Except when it shows a pattern that the defendant did the same thing every time
      2. Motis aperondi: same way, can show past crimes
    2. Rule: You can prove identity with other acts and coconspirator testimony.

2. Actus reus: there has to be an action and that action had to cause the crime (“the wrongful act”)

  1. Voluntary act
    1. Robinson v. California: police encounter the defendant on the street and see discoloration on his arms. He admits to occasional drug use and they arrest him for being a drug addict and he is convicted. The defendant argues it’s unconstitutional to punish an addiction; it’s cruel and unusual punishment (14th Amendment). The conviction is reversed.
      1. The 8th Amendment actually states cruel and an unusual punishment but the 14th states that no state shall make or enforce laws abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens (Doctrine of Incorporation).
      2. Drug addiction is a status that you can be every day
        1. Double Jeopardy would take over and no longer be applicable.
        2. “continuously guilty”
      3. It is not voluntary to be an addict
        1. It is a status, not an act
        2. Ex. Alcoholic, drug addict
      4. Use is an act → physical act
        1. Still punishable
      5. Rule: People cannot be criminalized for a status.
    2. United States v. Flores-Alejo: The defendant was arrested for DWI with a child in the car. Once he got to jail, ICE found him. He was an illegal immigrant and had been deported from the U.S. and asked to leave three times before. The defendant tries to make the argument that being an illegal immigrant is a “status.”
      1. Actus reus: remaining in the U.S.
      2. 8 U.S. 1326(a): “found in” statute
        1. Under a statutory duty to leave
        2. They placed him in a position of not being able to leave but his unlawful action got him arrested and put there
      3. It is a continuing offense, not a “status”
      4. The “found in” statute does not go under the Robinson case
  2. That causes (causation)
    1. Cause in fact (“but for” cause): Without the act, the result would not have happened.
      1. Paroline v. United States: Paroline possessed child pornography, two of which depicted an identifiable victim.
        1. The injury is mental harm caused by the continuous and large circulation of the images. But the government can’t show the possession by Paroline would have increased or decreased the harm.
        2. Rule: In the case of a child pornography victim, the government does not have to show traditional “but for” causation.
        3. The defendant must pay some amount to the victim that equates to his role in it all (hard to determine) because he must face the harm caused and paying nothing would cause no one to ever have to pay a victim for possession of child pornography.
    2. Legal cause (“proximate cause”): There must be a legal cause, legal consequences for the act and result; foreseeable harm because of the act.
      1. West v. Commonwealth: Husband and wife took on the duty to care for his sister when their mom passed away. West took her out of the program that was helping her, and she stayed in bed all the time until she got sick and they took her to the hospital. She died at the hospital from bed ulcers and malnourishment. The defendants claim they did not have a legal duty to care for her.
        1. Appeal: they did have a legal duty to care for her because they accepted the responsibility voluntarily.
        2. General Rule: Omission does not create liability, there must be a legal duty, not a moral one.
        3. 4 Circumstances when omission may lead to liability:
          1. law imposes the care of another
          2. relationship status
          3. contractual duty
          4. voluntarily assumed the duty and you isolate them from others (remove potential people to help them)
        4. The law is made so people do not inflict harm, not so they try to prevent it.
          1. Legal duty to help if you create the danger (ex. Sell a pill to someone)
        5. KRS 209.020(6) (Kentucky Revised Code): A “caretaker” is one who assumed responsibility by volunteering, contract, or agreement. (in this case it was volunteering)
  3. The identifiable social harm (result)
  4. Possession: not an act, just possession.
    1. United States v. Jameson: Felon in the backseat of a car when they get pulled over. He moves around before the police officer gets to the car. When they search the car they find a firearm in the floor where Jameson’s foot had been. Jameson disputes that he had possession.
      1. Testing whether a reasonable juror could have found that he had possession (affirmed)
      2. Two Types of Possession:
        1. Actual – physical touching
        2. Constructive – has the knowledge to hold the power and ability to exercise dominion and control
      3. Show the nexus → connection
        1. Knowledge and access
        2. Proximity is a factor, not determinative
      4. Joint possession and constructive possession – two people can constructively possess at the same time
      5. Application in this case
        1. Proximity
        2. Furtive movements
        3. Inferred physical contact (foot on top)
        4. Plain view and easily retrievable
        5. Clear lighting
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