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Criminal Law

mens rea the requisite mental state or “guilty mind"
strict liability the defendant is guilty regardless of mens rea, so long as he or she engaged in a voluntary act that led to the prohibited result
Traditional Approach to Intent and Mens Rea: specific Intent when I intend not only the act, but also the specific result.
Traditional Approach to Intent and Mens Rea: General Intent when I simply intend the action involved
Traditional Approach to Intent and Mens Rea: Transferred Intent an actor intends to harm person A, but harms B instead. The culpability is based on the intent to cause the harm per se.
Traditional Approach to Intent and Mens Rea: Constructive Intent when the resulting harm is greater that was intended or expected. Example: I shoot a gun into a speeding train just for fun, but happen to kill someone. This could be constructive homicide
Mens Rea under MPC unless the statute specifically states otherwise, the defendant must commit all elements of the crime with a mental state of recklessness or greater (i.e., recklessness, knowledge of purpose).
Smallwood v. State Appellant raped several women while he knew he was infected with the HIV virus. Charged for attempted murder. This was appealed and murder charge was dropped
actus reus , the state must prove that the defendant engaged in a voluntary act that led to the prohibited results
harm principle evil thoughts and (normally) speech do not cause the harms that evil actions do
Martin v. State (1944) , after being arrested in his home, was taken onto the highway by the arresting officers, Appellant was subsequently convicted under the Alabama public drunkenness
Concurrence the defendant must have had the required intent or other relevant mental state at the moment he performed the act.
corpus delicti the body or essence of a criminal offense that proves the crime has been committed (e.g., a dead body; stolen merchandise; evidence of battery or sexual assault; evidence of intoxication)
principle of legality Nothing is a crime unless it is clearly forbidden in law.
expost facto clause prohibits one from being punished for doing something that was not a crime when he or she did it, though it later became a crime.
Causation the defendant’s action set in motion a chain of events that led to harm. “But for” John Doe’s action, the harm would not have resulted.
R v Kennedy No2 it was held that the defendant’s contribution need only be significant, it need not be substantial. A gives drugs to B, B dies. A is convicted
inchoate crime one that is not completed or not perfectly formed
attempted crime one that has not been completed, either because the final act of execution has not been made or because of legal or factual impossibility
solicitation an inducement to commit a crime, not that crime in itself
“conspiracy” is an agreement to commit a crime, not that crime itself
Criminal Attempts: Stage of Commission at what point does the preparation to commit a crime become an attempt?
Criminal Attempts: Factual Impossibility Is it an attempt when it is factually impossible for me to complete the act (e.g., no bullets in the gun; I think I am giving the victim poison, but it is really sugar)?
Criminal Attempts: Legal Impossibility I think I am breaking the law, but unbeknownst to me, there is no law against what I am doing. Is this an attempt?
People v. Paluch, 1966 He was charged with attempting to practice barbering without a certificate of registration as a barber
Two elements that must be present to constitute an attempt (1) an intent to commit a specific offense, and (2) an act which is a substantial step towards its commission. k
People v. Rizzo Defendant was convicted of attempted robbery. However, at the time he was arrested, he never found the targeted individual he wanted to rob
Criminal Homicide those that are neither excused nor justified
Justifiable Homicide killings that are authorized or “justified” by law, such as valid self-defense, valid use of deadly force by police, or killing in accord with the rules of war.
Excused Homicides killings that are not justified, but are excused because of the circumstances, such as accidental killing or killing someone while you are insane.
“praiseworthy” homicide as in self-defense of oneself or others, or in a just war.
Murder involves killing a person(s) with malice aforethought.
Malice killing without justification or excuse
aforethought with premeditation or deliberation
Traditional Manslaughter killing in a sudden heat of passion that is provoked by the victim
Felony murder makes one strictly liable of murder even if one did not intend to kill anyone or have malice to kill.
People v. Stamp storeowner with a history of heart disease had a heart attack while being robbed pursuant to a burglary, and the robbers were held guilty of murder even though they had not intended to kill.
support the felony murder rule 1) it deters crime (deterrence theory); 2) it reduces violence by providing an incentive for felons to be especially careful in how they carry out their crimes; 3) those who commit violent felonies deserve to be held responsible (retribution theory)
proximate cause that which, in a natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces injury and without which the result would not have occurred
Agency theory
beyond a reasonable doubt presumption of innocence in every criminal case
Clear and convincing evidence test used in some non-criminal cases involving sanctions. The clear and convincing standard usually boils down to whether there is a “substantial probability” of culpability.
• Preponderance of the evidence test something is “more likely than not.” That is, if there is a 51% chance that someone is liable, then that person is liable under the preponderance test. This is the standard used in civil cases
Burden of Persuasion (or Proof) ultimately convincing the trier of fact” (jury or judge) of the guilt of the defendant or of the existence of certain facts in the case.
Burden of Production the burden of coming forward with enough evidence to place a certain fact or claim in issue in the case in the first place.A threshold issue. If the prosecution wants to prove mens rea, it has to provide enough evidence to make this an issue in the case.
• Affirmative Defenses defense in which the defense bears the burden of production. Other affirmative defenses include insanity; duress; manslaughter (a partial one); diminished capacity or responsibility; intoxication; and necessity.
• Mullaney v. Wilbur The trial court instructed the jury that Maine law recognizes two kinds of homicide, murder and manslaughter, and that these offenses are not subdivided into different degrees
In re Winship that the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt every fact necessary to constitute the crime charged
Leland v. Oregon, the defense of insanity must be proved by the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt
Martin v. Ohio the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional for Ohio to make the defendant bear the burden of persuasion by a preponderance of the evidence after she had met the burden of production for self-defense
• Borum v. U.S. (1967) Fingerprint/ reasonable doubt case
Created by: mimack