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25 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

Culpability (Blameworthiness)

The idea that it's fair and just to punish only people we can blame.

Mens Rea (translated into English)

"Evil state of mind."

Framework of mens rea (3 things)

1) General intent

2) Specific intent

3) Strict liability

The four states of mind, ranked according to the degree of their blameworthiness (Levels of Culpability):

1) Purposely

2) Knowingly

3) Recklessly

4) Negligently

The two parts of the element of causation (both of these have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution):

1) Cause in fact (but for causation)

2) Legal cause

Cause in fact "but for causation" (definition)

The objective determination that the defendant's act triggered a chain of events that ended as the harmful result, such as the death in a homicide.

Legal cause (definition)

The subjective judgement that it's fair and just to blame the defendant for the bad result.

Mens rea (definition)

Guilty mind; the mental element, criminal intent, evil mind, or state of mind, in a crime.

Medieval jurist Bracton (quote):

"He who kills without intent to kill should be acquitted, because a crime is not committed unless the intent to injure intervenes; and the desire and purpose distinguish evildoing."

U.S. Criminal Law scholar Joel Bishop (quote):

"There can be no crime, large or small, without an evil mind."

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Jack Weinstein (quote):

"Western civilized nations have long looked to the wrongdoer's mind to determine both the propriety and the grading of punishment."

Why is mens rea difficult to prove? (4 reasons)

1) Whatever it means, mens rea is difficult to discover then prove in court.

2) Courts and legislatures have used so many vague and incomplete definitions of the mental element.

3) Mens rea consists of several mental attitudes that range across a broad spectrum, stretching all the way from purposely committing a crime you're totally aware is criminal, to merely creating risks of criminal conduct or causing criminal harms--some you might not be aware you're doing.

4) A different mental attitude might apply to each of the elements of a crime.

Motive (definition):

Something that causes a person to act.

Chief Justice Brian (quote):

"The thought of a man is not triable, for the devil himself knoweth not the thought of man".

Sir William Blackstone (quote):

"A tribunal can't punish what it can't know."

Two kinds of fault that satisfy the mental element in criminal liability:

1) Subjective Fault

2) Objective Fault

Subjective fault (definiton)

Fault the requires a "bad mind" in the actor.

Objective fault (definition)

Requires no purposeful or conscious bad mind in the actor.

Strict Liability (definition)

Liability without either subjective or objective fault.

General intent (definition)

The intent to commit the criminal act as defined in a statute.

Specific intent (definition)

Subjective fault; it refers to criminal intent in addition to the criminal act.

General intent "plus" (definition)

Where "general intent" refers to the intent to commit the acts reas of the crime, and "plus" refers to some "special mental element" in addition to the intent to commit the criminal act.

Ronald L. Gainer (quote)

"The Code's provisions concerning culpable mental states introduced both reason and structure to a previously amorphous area of American law. For centuries, the approach to mental components of crimes had been a quagmire of legal refuse, obscured by a thin surface of general terminology denoting wrongfulness. The archaic verbiage suggesting evil and wickedness was replaced by the drafters with concepts of purpose, knowledge, recklessness, and negligences, and the concepts were structured to apply separately to actions, circumstances in which actions took place, and results."

2-Pronged test of recklessness:

1) Subjective : defendant's actual awareness

2) Objective : measures conduct according to how it deviates from what reasonable people do

Principle of Concurrence (definition)

Some mental fault has