Essay on Chapter 3 Notes

Submitted By brandi805
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Written Sources of American Criminal Law
Constitution (US and State)
Statutes/laws passed by Congress and state legislatures
Regulations passed by regulatory commissions
Case law

US ConstitutionState ConstitutionsOutlines the structure of the federal government and how it will operate
"Supreme law of the land"

10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Reserves the states to have all powers not granted to the federal government
"Supreme" within each individual state (unless conflict with U.S. Constitution)
Statutory Law
Statutes enacted by legislative bodies at any level of government
Ballot initiatives
Citizens collect enough signatures and can force a public vote on a proposed change to state or local law
Examples: California's Proposition 34 on Ending the Death Penalty

Supremacy clause -
When there is a conflict between federal and state laws or constitutions, federal law/constitution trumps state

Administrative Law (Regulations)
Branch of law governing the creation and operation of administrative/ regulatory agencies
Government agency established to perform specific function
Agencies create rules and policies that govern their responsibilities
Example: Food and Drug Administration

Case Law
Rules of law based on court decisions
Precedents= court decision that serves as an example/authority for deciding future cases involving similar facts
Stare decisis

Civil Law v. Criminal Law
Civil Law
Issues pertaining to private matters between two individuals or businesses
Standard of proof that must be met at trial: Preponderance of evidence
Proof that a given fact is more likely than not true
Lower burden of proof than in criminal cases

Criminal Law
Issues between the government and individuals who are accused of violating government-created laws
Standard of proof that must be met at trial: Proof beyond a reasonable doubt
Defendant's guilt must be the only reasonable
Higher burden of proof than in civil cases

Example: OJ Simpson
Criminal Case: First Degree Murder- Found Not Guilty
Civil Case: Wrongful Death- Found Liable

Felonies v. Misdemeanors
Degree of seriousness
Serious crimes punishable by 1 or more years in a federal or state penitentiary
"Less serious" offenses punishable by a fine or by confinement in jail up to one year

Mala in Se and Mala Prohibita
Mala in se = acts that are wrong regardless of whether they are prohibited by the law
"Bad in themselves"
Mala prohibita = acts that are considered crimes because they are made illegal by criminal statutes
"Bad because prohibited"

Elements of a Crime: Corpus Delicti
Corpus deliciti – body of circumstances that must exist for a criminal act to have occurred
Actus reus
Mens rea
Concurrence (actus reus + mens rea)
Attendant/accompanying circumstances
Harm done

I. Actus Reus
A guilty act that was committed voluntarily
May also include failure to act (act of omission)
When individuals are required to act, by law, but fail to do so
Examples: Nurses required to aid patients; Lifeguards are required to aid drowning individuals

II. Mens Rea
Criminal intent (guilty mind)
Sometimes difficult to establish

Strict Liability
In certain crimes, intent is not required
Government simply has to prove that the act itself occurred
Examples: Serving alcohol to minors; statutory rape; possession of marijuana; driving without a license
III. Concurrence Between Actus Reus and Mens Rea
Guilty act and guilty intent occur at the same time (concurrence)
Intent must have prompted (come before) the act
Example: Richard Sherman is in his Mercedes Benz, driving lawfully, and accidently hits and kills a man who runs out into the road. Richard Sherman then learns that the identity of the man is Michael Crabtree. Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree are enemies. When Richard Sherman learns that Michael Crabtree died, he starts…