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51 Cards in this Set

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Common Law Murder

The killing of a human being with malice aforethought.

Malice Aforethought

Can be established by:

1. Intent to kill

2. Intent to cause serious bodily harm

3. Depraved heart

4. Intent to commit a dangerous felony

Depraved Heart

Reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to human life.

Doctrine of Transferred Intent

If a defendant intended injury to a person, and in trying to carry out that intent caused similar injury to another, her intent is transferred from the intended person to the one harmed. Any mitigating circumstances that the defendant could have asserted against the intended victim will also usually be transferred.

Does not apply to attempt.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter is a killing with adequate provocation. The provocation must be such that would arouse sudden and intense passion in an ordinary person, and there has been insufficient time for the passions of a reasonable person to cool. The defendant must actually be provoked and have acted under that provocation (i.e., did not cool off).

Felony Murder

A killing committed during the course of a felony is murder. The prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed a felony, and that the felony is independent of the killing. The death must be a foreseeable result of the commission of that felony.

Note: in the majority of states, criminal liability for murder cannot be based on the death of a co-felon from resistance by the victim or police pursuit.

M'Naghten Test

A defendant is entitled to an acquittal if the proof establishes that a disease of the mind caused a defect of reason, such that at the time of his actions the defendant lacked the ability to either know the wrongfulness of his actions or understand the nature and quality of his actions.

Criminal Negligence

Whena person fails to be aware that a substantial and unjustifiable risk exists orthat a result will follow, and such a failure constitutes a substantialdeviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exerciseunder the circumstances.

Example: a parent's failure to provide medical treatment for a critically ill child.

Accomplice / Accessory

One who, with the intent to assist the principal and the intent that the principal commit the substantive offense, actually aids, counsels, or encourages the principal before or during the commission of the crime.

(Obtaining Property by)

False Pretenses

The defendant:

1. obtains title

2. to the property of another

3. by means of a false representation of a material past or existing fact

4. with the intent to defraud the victim.

Criminal Attempt

The defendant must have an actual specific intent to perform an act and obtain a result that, if achieved, would constitute a crime. Additionally, the defendant must have committed an act beyond mere preparation in furtherance of that intent.

Voluntary Intoxication

Voluntary intoxication is a defense ONLY to specific intent crimes.

Exception: if the defendant formed an intent to commit a crime and then becomes voluntarily intoxicated, he cannot rely on the defense of intoxication.


1. An agreement between two or more people;

2. An intent to enter into an agreement;

3. And intent to achieve the objective of the agreement.

4. Most states also require an overt act in furtherance of the agreement.

Each person who takes part in the planning of a crime is criminally liable for the crime of conspiracy and for each offense committed in furtherance of the conspiracy.

Withdrawal from Conspiracy

To withdraw from a conspiracy, the actor must notify all members of the conspiracy that he has withdrawn; this must be done in time for them to have an opportunity to abandon the planned crimes.


The defense of duress requires the commission of an otherwise criminal act under the threat of imminent infliction of death or great bodily harm.

Exception: Duress is NOT a defense to homicide.

Use of Force by Police Officers

Police officers are generally entitled to use whatever force is reasonably required, including deadly force, to apprehend or prevent the escape of a felon who poses a threat of serious bodily harm to the officer or others.


The unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought.

Involuntary Manslaughter

A death caused by criminal negligence.

In some states, a killing is involuntary manslaughter if it s committed during the commission of an unlawful act (not included within the felony murder rule).


The malicious burning of the dwelling house of another. Any charring of any part of the structure is sufficient to establish a burning.


Malice may be established by specific intent, or a reckless disregard of an obvious or high risk that a particular harmful result will occur.

Defenses to specific intent crimes (e.g. voluntary intoxication) do not apply to malice crimes.


The intentional breaking and entering of the dwelling house of another in the night time with the intent to commit a felony or any degree of larceny therein.

Note that entry obtained through fraud is considered a "constructive breaking."


Any structure customarily used for sleeping. May include private residences, hotels, and guest houses.


The intentional taking and carrying away of the personal property in possession of another, without their consent, and with the intent to permanently deprive the other thereof.

Note that the slightest movement of the property after the property is controlled by the defendant is sufficient.


The taking and carrying away of the personal property of another by force or intimidation from the other's person or presence with the intent to permanently deprive the person thereof.


A person has a mental state of knowing a fact when he knows, believes, or is substantially certain that a fact exists.

A person is deemed aware of these circumstances when he is aware of a high probability that they exist and deliberately avoids learning the truth.

The Victim Rule

A person cannot be an accessory for violating a statute designed to protect the class of which he is a member.

Example: a child cannot be convicted as an accessory to statutory rape.


If the defendant made a mistake with respect to a fact found in the definition of a specific intent crime, and because of the mistake he lacked the requisite intent, it does not matter whether the mistake was reasonable or unreasonable.

Self Defense

The defendant must have reasonably believed that he was under an unlawful attack and used a reasonable amount of force to defend himself.

Receipt of Stolen Property

The defendant must receive possession and control of stolenproperty knowing it to have been stolen by another person and with the intentto permanently deprive the owner of it.


There are two actions covered by the crime of assault:

1. An attempted battery, and

2. The intentional creation of a reasonable apprehension of imminent bodily harm in the mind of the victim.

MPC Insanity Test

A defendant isentitled to acquittal if he suffered from a mental disease or defect and as aresult lacked substantial capacity to either:

1. Appreciate the criminality of his conduct, or

2. Conform his conduct to the requirements of law

Durham Test

A defendant is entitled to acquittal if his crime was the product of mental disease or defect.

Irresistible Impulse Test

A defendant is entitled to acquittal if, because of mental illness, the defendant was unable to control his actions or conform his conduct to the law.


The unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman by a man not her husband without her effective consent.

Larceny by Trick

A larceny whereby the victim consents to the defendant's taking possession of the property, but such consent has been induced by misrepresentation.


A making or altering of a false instrument with the intent to defraud.

The falsity must be about the instrument itself, not about the contents of the instrument.


The fraudulent conversion of the property of another by a person in lawful possession of that property.

Factual Impossibility

It is no defense to a charge of criminal attempt that it would have been impossible for the defendant to do all of those things that he intended to do, had the attendant circumstances been as the defendant believed them to be.

Continuing Trespass Doctrine

If a defendant takes property with a wrongful state of mind but without the intent to steal, and later, while still in possession of it, forms the intent to steal it, the trespass involved in the initial wrongful taking is regarded as "continuing" and the defendant is guilty of larceny.

Use of Deadly Force by a Private Person

A private person may use deadly force to apprehend a fleeing felon if the felon threatens death or serious bodily harm and deadly force is necessary to prevent her escape.

When does the felony terminate, for purposes of determining whether a killing constitutes felony murder?

When the defendant reaches "a place of temporary safety."

What is the difference between first and second degree murder?

Murder is of the second degree unless deliberation and premeditation can be shown, or the killing occurred during an enumerated felony, in which case the murder is of the first degree.

If neither can be shown, the killing will usually be second degree murder (unless the killing is downgraded to manslaughter based on adequate provocation).

Intervening Acts

An intervening act will shield the defendant from liability if the act is a mere coincidence or is outside the foreseeable sphere of risk created by the defendant's act.

e.g. defendant stabs victim, who is treated in the hospital. On his way home, the victim is killed in a car accident.

Wharton Rule

If the crime requires two or more parties to commit it, there can be no conspiracy to commit the crime unless more parties take part in the crime than are necessary for its commission.

General Intent

The defendant must be aware that he is acting in a proscribed way and that any attendant circumstances required by the crime are present.


A person acts recklessly when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a prohibited result will follow, and this disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would take in the situation.

When may an initial aggressor use self-defense?

1. If the victim of the initial aggression escalates a minor altercation into a deadly altercation

2. If he, in good faith, removes himself from the fight, and communicates to the other person his desire to remove himself

Deadly Force in Self Defense

A person may use deadly force in self-defense if:

1. he is without fault,

2. he is confronted with unlawful force, and

3. he reasonably believes that he is threatened with imminent death or great bodily harm.

Larceny of Your Own Property

If another person, such as a bailee, has a superior right to possession of your property at the time, it is possible to commit larceny by taking and carrying away that property with the intent to deprive the other person of it.

Ignorance of the Law

Ignorance of the existence of a statute making an action criminal is no defense to subsequent criminal prosecution.

Ignorance of the Elements of a Crime

A mistake as to some aspect of law pertaining to the elements of a crime may negate the state of mind requirement for the crime when a culpable state of mind is specified by an offense without indicating to which element it applies.