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I. Culpability


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I. Culpability


  1. Blameworthiness (mens rea)

  2. Knowingly

a. Willful Blindness

  1. Recklessly

    1. Criminal Negligence

  2. Felony-murder

    1. Unlawful Act Doctrine

  3. Mistake of Fact

  4. Strict Liability

    1. No Voluntary Act Doctrine

  5. Mistake of Law

II. Proportionality (determinate and indeterminate sentencing, Federal Sentencing

Guidelines)
III. Legality
IV. Causation (“but for” test and proximate cause)


  1. Omissions (duty from a special status relationship)

  2. Attempts (inchoate/incomplete and failed)

  3. Accomplice Liability

  4. Money Laundering

  5. Corporate Liability

  6. Conspiracy

    1. Pinkerton Rule

    2. Wheel Conspiracy

    3. Chain Conspiracy

  7. RICO




      1. Affirmative Defenses

  1. Justifications

  2. Excuses

The MPC limits the distribution of punishment three ways:


  1. culpability: the MPC safeguards conduct that is without fault from condemnation as criminal

  2. proportionality: the MPC differentiates on reasonable grounds between serious and minor offenses

  3. legality: the MPC gives fair warning of the nature of the conduct declared to constitute an offense

I. Culpability: MPC sec. 2.02

1. Blameworthiness: an unwarrantable act without mens rea is no crime at all.

  • Broadly speaking, in its culpability context, mens rea is a “general immorality of motive,” a “vicious will,” or an “evil-meaning mind” (moral blameworthiness). This common-law definition does not require any particular mental state (i.e. knowingly, purposefully, etc.)


  • The narrow meaning (and Jacobs’ use of the word) is simply the “particular mental state provided for in the definition of an offense,” the mental state required by the definition of the offense to accompany the act that produces or threatens harm. (i.e. intentionally, knowingly; these can be what the  knew or should have known). There are exceptions such as involuntary act, duress, legal insanity, accident, and mistake.

US v. Neiswender: what if  can’t actually affect offense he intends? , for a fee, offered to corrupt a juror, but he was wrong and actually had no influence and couldn’t corrupt anyone, further he told attorney to work hard. He was convicted because he had the mens rea, the intention, to obstruct justice (by merely offering his services he could have affected the outcome of the case).

Elements of culpability: the  must have acted either purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently with respect to each material element of the offense: (1) conduct, (2) circumstance, (3) result.



2. Knowingly: MPC 2.02 (2)(b)

  • Means that the  intended the harm..

  • Can also mean  needs knowledge of a material fact – attendant circumstance – as a requirement of an offense.  is aware of material fact if he is aware of it or correctly believes it to exist (MPC also allows knowledge for awareness of a high probability of existence of fact: willful blindness)

US v. Jewell: willful blindness, MPC 2.02 (7) says a person has knowledge if he is aware of a high probability of its existence, unless he actually believes that it does not exist. Thus, if a person is ignorant as a result of a conscious purpose to avoid learning truth he can still be guilty of knowingly committing offense. His avoidance of the truth need not be active,  could be culpable for a failure to take simple, obvious steps to confirm or dispel his suspicions.

3. Recklessly MPC 2.02 (2)(c) would be used by the MPC here:

  •  disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk (of which he is aware) that will result from his conduct. This is a subjective standard concerning the  state of mind. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that, considering the nature and purpose of the actor’s conduct and the circumstances known to him, its disregard involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a law-abiding person would observe in the actor’s situation.

  • there is also “criminal negligence” which involves inadvertent risk-taking, in which the  should have been aware (an objective standard).  is not blamed for his state of mind but rather for failure to live up to the standards of the fictional reasonable person.

Regina v. Cunningham: the gas leak case,  did not intend to asphyxiate neighbor, but he was still convicted because trial judge said maliciously only meant “wickedness.” This conviction was quashed on appeal for an overly broad instruction.  was behaving negligently here.
4. Felony-Murder MPC 210.2 (and transferred-intent): any act known to be dangerous to life and likely in itself to cause death, done for the purpose of committing a felony which causes death, should be murder.

  • This is not limited to those deaths that are foreseeable or those that are natural and probable results, as long as the homicide is a direct causal result of the felony. Even if the victim would die soon, it is still murder if the victim’s life is shortened.

  • Must be both the “but for” cause and the “proximate” cause

  • Objection: punishes a crime when there is no mens rea. The answer is to limit this to dangerous felonies.

While it is allowable to transfer a felon’s intent to commit s felony (i.e. a robbery) to the different, more serious social harm of homicide, ordinarily the law does not recognize a transference of intent to cause one social harm to a different, greater harm. Thus the sailor who tried to steal rum and accidentally burned the ship was not guilty of intentionally burning the ship (Regina v. Faulkner).

People v. Stamp: burglarized a business and in robbed the victim at gunpoint. After the fled, the victim died of a heart attack, he was an obese 60-year old man with a history of heart disease. But the ’s conviction for 1st degree murder was upheld. Te Court said felony-murder is not limited to those deaths which are foreseeable, rather the is strictly liable for all killings committed by him or his accomplices. The homicide must be a direct causal result of the robbery, as long as the victim’s predisposition is not the only cause of death, the condition and the robber’s ignorance is not defense. This Court said the takes the victim as he finds him. However, under the MPC you do not take the victim as you find him.

  • There is no conclusive presumption, the presumption must be submitted to the jury (i.e. the presumption that a robbery was reckless indifference and thus causes the death)

  •  would argue to show this all should be a jury question: 210.2(b); 1.12(5)(a & b): about presumption (i.e. that the robbery was a reckless indifference to human life and thus caused a death); 2.03(3)(a & b): that the result involves the same kind of probable injury and about remoteness (death isn’t too remote)

  •  can say: 2.03(2)(a & b): the result was actually different than that contemplated; 2.03(3)(a & b).

  • Unlawful Act Doctrine: a misdemeanor resulting in a death can provide a basis for an involuntary manslaughter conviction without proof of recklessness or negligence.



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