Crimlaw Rules 1

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Crimlaw Rules 1
2010-07-12 14:12:25
General principles

general principles
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  1. Basic elements of a crime
    • Mens rea
    • Actus rea
    • Causation
  2. Actus Reus
    Voluntary act or omission

    Failure to act consitutes actus reus when duty exists:

    • by statute
    • by contract
    • by special relationship
    • by detrimental undertking
    • by causation (placing victim in peril)
  3. Mens Rea: specific intent crimes
    Require specific intent to accomplish the prohibited result.


    • First-degree murder
    • Inchaote crimes (attempt, solicitation, conspiracy)
    • Assault
    • Theft
  4. Mens rea: Malice crimes
    Require reckless disregard of a high risk of harm. Intent is inferred from accomplishment of the act.
  5. Mens Rea: General intent crimes
    Require intent to perform an act


    • battery
    • arson
    • rape
    • kidnapping
    • false imprisonment
  6. NY and the Model Penal code definitions of mens rea: Purposely, knowingly, recklessly, negligently
    Purposely - act with conscious object to engage in the conduct

    Knowingly - aware that conduct will lead to the crime being committed

    Recklessly - acts with conscious disregard of substantial and unjustifiable risk

    Negligently - should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk.
  7. Mens rea: strict liability crimes
    No mens rea required.

    Most crimes involve threatening public's health or safety or inherent dangerousness.
  8. Mistake as a defense to mens rea
    Mistake of fact - Must be an honest mistake. Not available for strict liability crimes. May be an unreasonable mistake for specific intent crimes, Must be reasonable for general intent and malice crimes.

    Mistake of law - ignorance of law a defense only when there is reliance on decision of a court or an honestly held mistake of law negates the specific intent requirement.