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Criminal Law - Outline - Part 4

By Lindsey Jackson

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<< Part 3 | Part 5 >>

  1. United States v. Campos: Lawful search of a house revealed in the defendant’s bedroom 50.6 grams of meth, a handgun, clip, and ammo. Found a pen downstairs, not in his bedroom, that had been used for meth.
    1. Statute elements:
      1. Possession of meth
      2. Possession was knowingly
      3. Intent to distribute the meth
        1. He disputes this element
    2. Looking for specific intent
    3. Defendant says the meth was for him to use
      1. Relies on pen with meth residue
    4. Trial judge says absent some more distribution evidence plus the user pen
      1. Overturns jury verdict and gives new trial
      2. No double jeopardy because he does not enter a verdict of his own
      3. “miscarriage of justice may have occurred”
        1. Intentionally let the jury give a verdict
    5. Appeal to 8th Circuit:
      1. Reversed; upholds jury verdict of guilty
  2. Specific Intent: adds other part (purpose/goal) mens rea
  3. General Intent: Just intend the actus reus
  4. Transferred Intent (MPC 2.03): If a different person suffers the harm, intent transfers
    1. Can’t intend to kill a dog (property) and transfer to killing a person
    2. You can transfer intent from a more serious intent to a less serious intent
    3. Intent transfers from: people to people and property to property

d. Recklessly

  1. People v. Hall: Hall flew of a knoll while skiing and hit the victim in the head causing injuries that later caused his death.
    1. District court at preliminary hearing dismissed the charges because not enough evidence
      1. Probable cause standard: government appeals saying they did provide evidence
    2. Issue: whether there was probable cause to put it before a jury
      1. Appellate court says yes assuming what the prosecution says can be proven
    3. Mens rea: recklessly
      1. Consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk will occur
    4. Must show:
      1. Consciously disregarded
      2. Substantial
      3. Unjustifiable risk of
      4. Death
    5. Unjustifiable:
      1. Nature and purpose of act
      2. Risk created by act
      3. Is the risk worth the reward
        1. Absent the risk, is it justified?
      4. Conduct by the defendant that is a gross deviation from the standard care that a reasonable person would exercise
    6. It should have gone to a jury, and appellate judge sends it to one
  2. Recklessness
    1. Person is aware of the risk
      1. Conscious disregard
    2. Did it regardless of knowing the risk

e. Negligent

  1. Not aware of the risk, but should have been aware
  2. Criminal Negligence
    1. Disregarded
    2. Substantial
    3. Unjustifiable risk
    4. Of which they should have been aware
      1. Gross deviation still applies

f. Intentionally – conscious object

g. Knowingly – practical certainty

h. Recklessly – consciously disregarded

  1. Substantial: magnitude of the harm is very great
  2. Unjustified

i. Negligently – didn’t know, but should have known

  1. What would a reasonable person have done
4. Concurrence
  1. Must simultaneously have
  2. Actus reus, and
  3. Mens rea
  4. At time of actus reus they have mens rea
    1. Act and intent at same time
    2. Timing
5. Causation
  1. Matters when it is a “results crime” (ex. Homicide – result is death)
  2. 2 types of causation:
    1. Proximate cause (legal cause)
    2. Actual cause (“but for” cause)
  3. Both types need to be present
  4. “but for”: if you remove the defendant’s conduct, would the result have happened?
    1. If yes = “but for” causation present and actual cause is established
  5. Actual Cause (“but for”)
    1. State v. Lane: Defendant “swung” at the victim (didn’t say hit). Testimony from defendant’s cousin. Look at circumstantial evidence to put it together that the defendant hit the victim, he didn’t fake him out or miss him. EMTs saw no injuries so they arrested him for public intoxication. Next day he was unresponsive (a lot of time goes by) and taken to the hospital where he dies of a brain injury.
      1. Issue: was evidence sufficient to show the defendant’s conduct was the “but for” cause of death.
      2. Manslaughter statute
        1. Unintentional killing
        2. Without malice
        3. Proximately caused by
          1. An unlawful act that is not a felony nor naturally dangerous to human life; or
          2. A culpably negligent act or omission
      3. Argument that something else could have caused death was speculative
        1. Jury had the right to reject this argument
        2. Reasonable juror could have rejected and found him as the “but for” cause
    2. Oxendine v. State: Tyree assaulted the child first and he complained of stomach pain. Then defendant assaults the child and he is in continuous distress. The victim dies on the way to the hospital.
      1. Issue: whether Oxendine’s assault was the cause in fact of his son’s death.
      2. Holding: a rationale juror could not have found Oxendine’s conduct to have caused the death.
      3. State argues the defendant’s conduct accelerated the death
      4. Acceleration theory:
        1. If someone else started the timeline but you did something to cause it to happen sooner than it would have you are still accountable
        2. “but for” the defendants conduct, would the death have happened when it did
      5. State’s experts could not say if it accelerated the death or not
      6. Defendant’s expert says it would have shortened his life (accelerated)
      7. Can’t just have speculation; had to show the second assault caused him to die sooner
        1. They did not prove this with their medical experts
      8. Not enough proof for “but for” causation
        1. Tried acceleration
        2. No state witnesses could say if it accelerated it or not
      9. Came up with assault instead which is not a results crime
    3. Did the act cause the death at that time?
      1. When the victim died
      2. Must prove the reason they died was for that action/cause of death
    4. Combined direct effect or multiple sufficient causes
      1. Each act independently kills
      2. Hold both responsible
      3. Concurrent sufficient causes
        1. Adopted as exception to “but for” causation
        2. Unless medical testimony says otherwise
  6. Proximate cause (legal cause)
    1. “but for” cause answered first then answer proximate (legal cause)
    2. Designed for fairness
      1. At one point does it become fair to charge someone with “but for”
      2. Too many intervening events that cut off the causal chain of events
    3. Have to prove through argument; a lot harder to prove
      1. Up to a jury, there’s no real test, just jury instruction
    4. Picks which “but for” cause is the proximate cause
    5. Direct causation: nothing intervenes
    6. Intervening causation: satisfy “but for” causes, but which one was the proximate cause
      1. Only guilty if the defendant’s voluntary act was the proximate cause
    7. State v. Smith: The defendant punched the victim once; he was released from the hospital. He died later of diabetic ketoacidosis because he couldn’t remember to take his insulin. Deputy coroner lists blunt force trauma as the COD, the other corner says diabetic ketoacidosis.
      1. Defendant argues he was not the proximate cause of death, diabetes was.
      2. Issue: what was the proximate cause of death.
      3. Ruling: the punch was the proximate COD.
      4. Punch injured the brain and that injury lead him to be apathetic and fail to take his insulin which resulted in death
      5. It was foreseeable because punching someone in the head can cause brain injury
      6. The fact that he had diabetes doesn’t matter; take the victim as you find him
    8. Intervening Cause
      1. Separate “but for” cause enters the picture after defendant’s voluntary act has occurred.
      2. Foreseeability is key
      3. Typical categories
        1. 3rd party wrongdoing
        2. Victim’s negligence
        3. Suicidal act by victim
        4. Act of God
    9. Intervening Superseding Causes
      1. Sufficient to cut off the causal connection between the defendant and the result
      2. If it’s just an intervening cause = no cut off of causal chain
      3. If it’s intervening and superseding = causal connection broken
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