mens rea Peru State College

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					        Larry J. Siegel

                   Chapter 3

Criminal Law: Substance and Procedure

      Joe Morris • Northwestern State University
      Cherly Gary • North Central Texas College
          Lisa Ann Zilney • Montclair State
Learning Objectives
• Know the similarities and differences between criminal law
  and civil law.
• Understand the concept of substantive criminal law and its
• Discuss the sources of the criminal law.
• Be familiar with the elements of a crime.
• Define the term “strict liability.”
• Discuss excuses and justification defenses for crime.
• Discuss the concept of criminal procedure.
• The role of the Bill of Rights in shaping criminal procedure.
• Know which Amendments do the Constitution are the
  most important to the justice system.
• List the elements of due process of law.
Rule of Law

              Substantive Criminal Law

              Procedural Criminal Law

                     Civil Law
Historical Development of Criminal Law
•   Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (2000 B.C.)
•   Mosaic Code of the Israelites (1200 B.C.)
•   Roman Twelve Tables (451 B.C.)
•   Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis
•   German Wergild
•   Canon (Church) Law
•   State centered law
Common Law &
the Principle of Stare Decisis
• Stare decisis - to stand by decided cases
• Mala in se - acts that society considers inherently
• Mala prohibitum – crimes created by legislative
Sources of the Criminal Law
• American legal system is codified by state and
  federal legislatures
• Constantly evolving
• Criminal law must conform to the Constitution
• No ex post facto laws permitted
Crimes & Classifications
Elements of a crime
Actus Reus
•   An illegal act
•   Failure to act when the law requires it
•   Act must be voluntary
•   Negligent acts can result in criminal liability
Mens Rea
• Guilty mind or intent
• Intent is implied if the results of an act are certain to
• Crimes may require different levels of intent
Mens Rea and Actus Reus
• Connection between act (actus reus) and harm done
• The illegal act must be the cause of the harm
Strict Liability
• Exceptions to mens rea are strict liability crimes -
  illegal acts that do not require a showing of intent
Criminal Defenses
• A person can commit an act that would ordinarily be
  a crime but they are not held criminally liable
• Criminal defenses are a core aspect of common law
• Most criminal defenses are based on the mens rea
Excuse Defenses
•   Ignorance or Mistake
•   Insanity
•   Intoxication
•   Age
• Relies on a legal rather than medical definition
• Insane persons lack the capacity to form legal intent,
  or mens rea
• Cannot distinguish between right and wrong, or
  cannot control their conduct
Justification Defenses
•   Consent
•   Self-Defense
•   Stand Your Ground
•   Entrapment
•   Duress
•   Necessity
Reforming the Criminal Law
• Law enables and also restricts government authority
  and power
• Changes over time
Creating New Crimes
•   Physician-Assisted Suicide
•   Stalking
•   Community Notification Laws
•   Environmental Crimes
Creating New Defenses
• Neurolegal Defenses
Constitutional Criminal Procedure
• Main source of procedural law is the Bill of Rights
• Limits on governmental action focus on:
   • 4th Amendment - searches and seizures
   • 5th Amendment - self-incrimination, double
     jeopardy, grand jury
   • 6th Amendment - speedy and public trial by an
     impartial jury, right to counsel, notice of charges,
     and confrontation of witnesses
   • 8th Amendment - prohibits excessive bail,
     excessive fines, and cruel and unusual
Due Process of Law
• Found in both the 5th and 14th Amendments
• Refers to the essential elements of fairness under
• Substantive due process - protects against laws that
  are unfair
• Procedural due process - ensures no one is deprived
  of life, liberty, or property without proper and legal
  criminal process
Interpreting the Constitution
• How the Supreme Court decides a case depends on:
  • The facts of the case
  • The federal and state constitutional and statutory
  • Previous court decisions
  • Judicial philosophy
  • Societal values

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