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Criminal Law

TermDefinition
Mala In Se (Inherently evil) crimes offenses that require some level of criminal intent.
Mala Prohibita Offenses that are crimes only because a specific statute or ordinance prohibits them.
Punishment Intentionally inflicting pain or other unpleasant consequences on another person.
Criminal Punishment Penalties that meet four criteria: (1) inflict pain or other unpleasant consequences; (2) prescribe a punishment in the same law that defines the crime; (3) administered intentionally; (4) administered by the state.
Hedonism The natural law that human beings seek pleasure and avoid pain.
Rationalism The natural law that individuals can act to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, permitting human beings to apply natural laws mechanistically instead of having to rely on the discretionary judgment of individual decision makers
Constitutional Democracy The majority can’t make a crime out of conduct protected by the fundamental rights in the U.S. Constitution.
Rule of law The idea that government power should be defined and limited by laws.
Presumption of Innocence The prosecution has the burden of proof when it comes to proving the criminal act and intent.
Burden of Proof To have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt “every fact necessary to constitute the crime charged.”
Constitutional Right to Privacy A right that bans “all governmental invasions of the sanctity of a man’s home and the privacies of life.”
Fundamental Right to Privacy A right that requires the government to prove that a compelling interest justifies invading it.
Cruel and Unusual Punishments “Barbaric” punishments and punishments that are disproportionate to the crime committed.
Barbaric Punishments Punishments considered no longer acceptable to civilized society.
Criminal Homicide Conduct that causes another person’s death.
Corpus Delicti Latin for “body of the crime”; it refers to the body of victims in homicides and to the elements of the crime in other crimes.
“Good Samaritan” Doctrine Imposes a legal duty to help or call for help for imperiled strangers.
American Bystander Rule There’s no legal duty to rescue or summon help for someone who’s in danger, even if the bystander risks nothing by helping.
Actual Possession Physical control of banned items on my person, for example, marijuana in my pocket.
Constructive Possession Banned items not on my person but in places I control, for example, in my car or apartment.
Knowing Possession Items possessors are aware is either on their person or in places they control.
Mere Possession Items you possess but you don’t know what they are.
Culpability or Blame Worthiness The idea that it’s fair and just to punish only people we can blame.
Mens Rea Latin for guilty mind, the mental element (also called “criminal intent,” “evil mind,” “mental attitude,” or “state of mind”) in crime.
Motive Something that causes a person to act.
Purposely The most blameworthy mental state requiring the actor’s “conscious object” to be to commit crimes or cause criminal results.
Knowingly The mental state of awareness in conduct crimes and, in result crimes, awareness that it’s “practically certain” that the conduct will cause the bad result.
Recklessly Conscious creation of a “substantial and unjustifiable” risk of criminal harm.
Principle of Concurrence Some mental fault has to trigger the criminal act in conduct crimes and the cause in result crimes.
Causation Holding an actor criminally accountable for the results of her conduct.
Factual Cause Also called “but for” cause or “cause in fact”; if it weren’t for an actor’s conduct, the result wouldn’t have occurred.
Legal (“proximate”) Cause A subjective question that asks, “Is it fair to blame Defendant for the harm triggered by a chain of events her action(s) set in motion?”
Intervening Cause An event that comes between the initial act in a sequence and the end result.
Criminal Conduct A criminal act triggered by criminal intent.
Justification Defenses Defendants admit they were responsible for their acts but claim that, under the circumstances, what they did was right ( justified.)
Excuse Defenses Defendants admit what they did was wrong but claim that, under the circumstances, they weren’t responsible for what they did.
Affirmative Defenses Defendants have to “start matters off by putting in some evidence in support” of their justification or excuse defenses.
Perfect Defenses Defenses in which defendants are acquitted if they’re successful.
Competency Hearings Special hearings to determine if defendants who have used the insanity excuse defense are still insane.
Stand-Your-Ground Rule If you didn’t start a fight, you can stand your ground and kill to defend yourself without retreating from any place you have a right to be.
Insanity The legal term that refers to a mental disease or defect that impairs the reason and/ or will to control actions.
Reason Psychologists call it “cognition”; the capacity to tell right from wrong.
Will Psychologists call it “volition,” most of us call it “willpower”; in the insanity tests, it refers to defendants’ power to control their actions.
Entrapment Excuse that argues government agents got people to commit crimes they wouldn’t otherwise commit.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Defense Excuse that argues the defendant wasn’t responsible because of PTSD.
Created by: Meli272004
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