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Foundations of Criminal Law


Title: Criminal Justice in America, 4e by George F. Cole & Christopher E. Smith Chapter 1 Crime and Criminal Justice Author: scott holdeman Last modified by – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Foundations of Criminal Law

Foundations of Criminal Law
  • Civil Law law regulating relationships between
    individuals involves property, contracts,
    business disputes.
  • Substantive criminal law law defining acts
    subject to punishment punishments for those
  • Procedural criminal law defines rules governing
    how laws will be enforced.

Substantive Criminal Law
  • Seven Principles of Criminal Law
  • Legality act must be prohibited by law.
  • Actus reus an act or omission by the accused.
  • Causation causal relationship between act and
    harm suffered.
  • Harm act must cause harm to some legally
    protected value.
  • Inchoate offense - an act can be deemed criminal
    if it could do harm that the law seeks to prevent
    (attempt, conspiracy)

Substantive Criminal Law
  • Concurrence the intent and act must be present
    at the same time.
  • Mens rea commission/omission of act must be
    accompanied by guilty state of mind. (intent)
  • Exception to this is strict liability offenses
  • Punishment

Substantive Criminal Law
  • Elements of a Crime
  • Statutory Definitions of Crime
  • Federal and state penal codes
  • Malice aforethought
  • Responsibility for Criminal Acts
  • Mens rea crucial in establishing responsibility

Substantive Criminal Law
  • Eight defenses based on lack of criminal intent
  • Entrapment government agents induced the person
    to commit the offense.
  • Self-defense in fear of immediate danger level
    of force cannot exceed reasonable persons
    perception of the threat.
  • Necessity break the law in order to save
    themselves or prevent some greater harm.
  • Duress coerced into committing the act.

Substantive Criminal Law
  • Immaturity children under certain age are not
    held accountable.
  • Mistake generally ignorance of law is no
    excuse, except in case of mistake of fact.
  • Intoxication person tricked into consuming a
    substance knowing.

Substantive Criminal Law
  • Insanity courts have used five tests
  • o MNaughten Rule does not know right from
  • o Irresistible Impulse Test could not control
    his conduct
  • o Durham Rule act caused by mental illness
  • o Substantial Capacity Test lacks substantial
    capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of
    conduct or to control it
  • o Present Federal Law lacks capacity to
    appreciate wrongfulness of conduct

Procedural Criminal Law
  • Defines how the state must process cases
  • Procedural due process protecting the rights of
    the accused
  • U.S. Supreme Court has played a major role in
    defining procedural criminal law.

Bill of Rights
  • Ten Amendments added to the Constitution in 1791
    outlining individual rights
  • For quite some time the Bill of Rights applied
    only to those cases involving the federal
    government, and did not apply to state criminal
  • Barron v. Baltimore (1833)

Bill of Rights
  • Fourteenth Amendment and Due Process
  • Ratified in 1868
  • No State shalldeprive any person of life,
    liberty, or property without due process of law
    nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction
    the equal protection of the laws.
  • Has had a profound impact on criminal justice
  • Powell v. Alabama (1932) ruled that due process
    clause required courts to provide attorneys for
    poor defendants facing the death penalty.
  • Basic standard of fundamental fairness

The Due Process Revolution
  • Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme
    Court led revolution that changed meaning and
    scope of constitutional rights.
  • Process of incorporation extension of the due
    process clause of the 14th Amendment to make
    binding on state governments rights guaranteed in
    the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The Due Process Revolution
  • Warren court has received strong criticism
  • Accused of rewriting constitutional law that gave
    too many legal protections to criminals
  • Criticized for ignoring established precedents
    that defined rights in a limited fashion

The Fourth Amendment Protection Against
Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
  • The right of the people to be secure in their
    persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
    unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
    violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon
    probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,
    and particularly describing the place to be
    searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment Protection Against
Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
  • Limits ability of police to search a person or
  • Limits ability of law enforcement to detain a
    person without justification
  • Protects peoples privacy by barring
    unreasonable searches
  • Supreme Court must define what is reasonable or

The Fourth Amendment Protection Against
Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
  • Weeks v. United States (1914) Court ruled the
    federal courts must exclude any evidence that was
    obtained through an improper search by federal
    law enforcement agents. (exclusionary rule)
  • Mapp v. Ohio (1961) The Supreme Court expanded
    this rule to include searches by state and local
    law enforcement officers

The Fourth Amendment Protection Against
Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
  • 4th Amendment rights narrowed during the chief
    justiceships of Warren Burger (1969-1986) and
    William Rehnquist (1986-present).
  • United States v. Leon (1984) Court created a
    good faith exception to the exclusionary rule
  • Limited its applicability and gave police greater
    flexibility to conduct searches without obtaining
    a search warrant

The Fifth Amendment Protection Against
Self-Incrimination and Double Jeopardy
  • No person shall be held to answer for a capital
    or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a
    presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury,nor
    shall any person be subject for the same offense
    to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb nor
    shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a
    witness against himself, nor be deprived of life,
    liberty, or property, without due process of law

The Fifth Amendment Protection Against
Self-Incrimination and Double Jeopardy
  • Self-Incrimination
  • This protection is consistent with assumption
    state must prove defendants guilt.
  • Validity of confessions
  • Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) attorney must be
    provided to suspects when they are taken into
    police custody.
  • Miranda v. Arizona (1966) Confessions made by
    suspects who were not notified of their due
    process rights cannot be admitted into evidence.

The Fifth Amendment Protection Against
Self-Incrimination and Double Jeopardy
  • Justices were not trying to limit police
    officers ability to investigate crimes.
  • Confessions can be unreliable
  • Exclusionary rule applicable to violations of 5th
    amendment as well as 4th amendment.
  • Inevitable discovery rule Nix v. Williams

The Fifth Amendment Protection Against
Self-Incrimination and Double Jeopardy
  • Double Jeopardy
  • Subject to only one prosecution or punishment for
    that offense in the same jurisdiction.
  • However, single criminal act may violate a
    federal and state law in this case can have two
    separate trials

The Sixth Amendment The Right to Counsel and a
Fair Trial
  • In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall
    enjoy right to a speedy, public trial, by an
    impartial juryto be informed of nature and
    cause of accusation to be confronted with the
    witnesses against him to have compulsory process
    for obtaining witnesses in his favor and to have
    assistance of counsel for his defense.

The Sixth Amendment The Right to Counsel and a
Fair Trial
  • Right to Counsel
  • Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) made this
    requirement binding on the states, not just the
    federal government
  • Right to Speedy and Public Trial
  • Public trial intended to protect accused from an
    arbitrary trial
  • Speedy is vague, no specified time requirement
  • Right to an Impartial Jury
  • Jury pool should be made up of cross section of
    the community

The Eighth Amendment Protection Against
Excessive Bail, Excessive Fines, and Cruel and
Unusual Punishment
  • Excessive bail shall not be required, nor
    excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual
    punishment inflicted.
  • Release on bail not all defendants are required
    to be released
  • United States v. Salerno upheld provision of
    Bail Reform Act of 1984 that allows federal
    judges to detain without bail suspects who are
    considered dangerous to the public

The Eighth Amendment Protection Against
Excessive Bail, Excessive Fines, and Cruel and
Unusual Punishment
  • Excessive Fines
  • Austin v. United States (1993) Court ruled
    forfeiture of property related to a criminal case
    can be analyzed for possible violation of
    Excessive Fines Clause
  • Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Constitutional Rights and Criminal Justice
  • Police, courts, corrections have had to develop
    policies and guidelines to inform criminal
    justice professionals about what they are and are
    not permitted to do while carrying out their job
  • Recognize need for protection, but feel
  • Is there a proper balance between the protection
    of constitutional rights and the ability of
    criminal justice officials to punish