People v. Shaughnessy N.Y. District Court 1971 We have learned from Civil Procedure: To win a civil suit the Plaintiff has the “burden of proof” to produce evidence superior (preponderance) to that presented by the Defendant. For Criminal Prosecution, that “burden of proof” is much greater: To win a criminal prosecution, the Plaintiff (always the government) must produce evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Defendant committed the crime, committed it voluntarily, and (in some cases) with “criminal intent.” Define Actus Reus in terms of criminal prosecution. Essentially “the wrongful act.” The burden of proof in any criminal prosecution is on the state to demonstrate by the evidence that there is no other reasonable explanation but that the defendant (usually) voluntarily committed the crime. Define Mens Rea in terms of criminal prosecution. The burden of proof in a criminal prosecution is to prove that the defendant knew what they were doing and knew (or should have known) that it was illegal. What is mala per se crime? Mala per se means bad in and of itself. A crime which is considered morally evil. Homicide or rape are good examples. What is a mala prohibitum crime? Mala prohibitium crimes are not intrinsically evil acts, but just regulations sanctioned with criminal penalties. Driving with an invalid license is an example. Argue for the State Prosecution Explain why Ms. Saughnessy should be convicted of trespassing. Argue for the Defense Make the case as Ms. Saughnessy’s Defense Attorney that charge of trespassing should be dropped. Why did the Defendant claim that the charges against her should be dropped? The Defendant claimed that the Trespassing Ordinance was unconstitutional as it did not require proof of actus reus or mens rea. Explain why the defendant in this case was found not guilty? Most mala prohibita crimes do not require proof of mens rea, but there must be proof of actus reus (committed voluntarily). Trespassing is a mala prohibita crime and proof of voluntary commission is required. Defendant’s entry was not voluntary.
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