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Blameworthiness (also called "culpability")
The idea that we can only punish people that we can blame, and we can only blame people that are responsible for what they do.
Cause in fact
The objective determination that the defendants act triggered a chain of events that ended as a bad result, such as death in homicide.
Legal Cause
A subjective judgment as to whether it's fair and just to blame the defendant for the result; cause recognized by law to impose criminal liability.
The reason why a defendant commits a crime
Subjective fault
Fault that requires a "bad mind" in the actor.
Objective fault
Fault that requires no purposeful or conscious "bad mind" in the actor; it sets a standard of what the "average person should have known."
No fault
Liability that requires neither subjective nor objective fault.
General Intent
Intent to commit the actus reus-the act required in the definition of the crime.
Specific Intent
The attitude represented by subjective fault, where there's a "bad" mind or will that triggers the act; the intent to do something beyond the actus reus.
General intent plus
"General intent" refers to the intent to commit the actus reus of the crime; and "plus" refers to some "special mental element," in addition to the intent to commit the criminal act.
Purpose (in mens rea)
The specific intent to act and/or cause a criminal harm.
Knowledge (in mens rea)
Consciously acting or causing a result.
The conscious creation of substantial and unjustifiable risk.
The unconscious creation of substantial and unjustifiable risks.
The Latin name for "Awareness."
Strict liability
Liability without fault, or in the absence of mens rea; it's based on voluntary action alone.
Principle of concurrence
Some mental fault has to trigger the actus reus in criminal conduct crimes and the cause in bad-result crimes.
Factual ("but for") cause
Conduct that, in fact, leads to a harmful result.
Proximate cause
The main cause of the result of criminal conduct; legal cause.
Intervening cause
The cause that either interrupts a chain of events or substantially contributes to a result.
Mistake of fact
To be mistaken about the law or fact; to believe the facts are one thing when they're really another; a defense wheneer the mistake prevents the formation of any fault-based mental attitude.
Ignorance of the law
A defense that the defendant didn't know the rules, so he couldn't know he was breaking the law.
The Principle of Mens Rea
Mens rea is the mental element of a crime that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Serious crimes require both:
a criminal act (actus reus) and criminal intent (mens rea)
Proving "State of Mind"- proof of (mens rea)
1. We can't see intent or measure it directly.
2. We infer intent from actors' actions (circumstantial evidence).
3. Confessions are the only direct evidence of mens rea.
Four kind of mens rea
1. State of mind
2. Motive
3. Fault
4. Intent
Although it may or may not be relevant, is not the same thing as mens rea.
Fault: Subjective fault
Subjective fault requires "bad mind" of the actor.
Fault: Objective fault
Objective fault does not require 'bad mind" but is present when a reasonable person whould have known something that the actor claims he didn't know.
Fault: No-fault liability
No-fault liability (strict liability) is when the law makes certain behavior a crime, even if the person didn't have any guilty mind.
Intent: General Intent
1. Intent to engage in the criminal act
Intent: Specific Intent
Intent to cause a specific result; commonly defined as "general intent plus"
Intent: Transferred Intent
Intent: Constructive Intent
The Model Penal code's Mental Attitudes-Thefour levels of culpability:
1. Purpose
2. Knowledge
3. Recklessness
4. Negligence
Acting on purpose and/or with the conscious object of causing harm.
Acting knowingly but without the conscious purpose of object of causing harm.
Acting with a conscious creation of a high risk of harm.
Acting with an unconscious creation of a high risk of harm.
Liability without fault: Strict liability
Offenses don't require culpability (mens rea)
Justifications for strict liability:
The offenses are a danger to public health, safety, and moral
Penalties are limited to fines as the only punishment.
Criticisms of sctrict liability
It violates the basic idea of punishment for culpability.
It could be expanded to include more serious crimes.
The principle of concurrence states the required relationship between intent and act.
A. Mens rea triggers the criminal act
B. Criminal conduct causes the criminal harm.
The principle of causation states the required relationship between act and harm
Applies only to crimes of criminal conduct causing criminal harm.
Two kinds of causation:
Factual ("but for" or "except for") cause
Legal (proximate) cause
Factual ("but for" or "except for") cause
Is an empirical question of fact
"Except for" or "but for" an act by the defendant that triggered a chain of events, would this criminal harm have occurred?
A necessary but not sufficient cause for proving causation
Legal (proximate) cause
1. Based on a subjective question of fairness
2. Two types of intervening acts in the chain between the triggering act of the defendant and the criminal harm
Ignorance and Mistake
Ignorance is not knowing what the fact are; mistakenness is not being correct in what you think you know are the facts or the law.
Mistake of Fact:
Mistake of fact is generally a defense to a crime; some say it negates the mens rea because
1. Failure of proof of mental element
2. MPC approach: Mistake matters when it prevents the formation of the specific mens rea required by the statute.
3. Mistake of fact isn't a defense to strict liability crimes.
Ignorance of the Law
Allowing ignorance of the law as a defense would clash with the principle of legality.
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