Monday, December 19, 2005

Outline - Criminal Law - I - Act

Criminal Law (2005 Fall)


  1. Involuntariness
    1. General Rule - Involuntariness is a defense to the act requirement. [Martin - No liability because defendant was not in public voluntarily, thus does not satisfy element requiring him to “appear in public”.]
    2. Unconsciousness – Where not self-induced, unconsciousness is a complete defense. [Newton, defendant was not conscious of shooting police officer, corroborated by expert testimony.]
    3. MPC § 2.01(2)
      1. Reflex or convulsion
      2. Unconsciousness movement or sleepwalking
      3. Hypnosis
      4. Movement not a result of conscious or habitual effort
    4. Exceptions
      1. Where statute does not require volition [Winzar – No defense when statute reads “found drunk”]
      2. Where defendant was aware of probability of acting involuntarily [Decina – Epileptic seizure no defense]
  2. Omissions
    1. General rule – No liability for failure to act unless law imposes a duty
    2. Duties [Jones]
      1. Statute – Statute imposing duty on “any person” who lets an elderly person suffer pain fails to provide clear standard, not enforceable. [Heitzman, non-resident daughter did nothing to stop siblings’ abuse of parent.]
      2. Relationship
        1. Pope – Defendant not liable for death of child whose mother killed him.
        2. Jones – Defendant not liable for not feeding child of family friend.
        3. Beardsley – Defendant not liable for death of woman, not his wife, who overdosed in his house.
      3. Contract [Stone and Dobinson - defendant and his housekeeper had duty to his rent-paying sister]
      4. Assumption of Care and Seclusion [Oliver - Defendant had duty to man she brought home from club, in effect secluding him from others]
    3. Euthanasia – Terminating Treatment vs. Assisted Suicide
      1. Barber – Doctors lacked duty to provide heroic life sustaining measures after they are deemed futile; treats terminating treatment as an omission.
      2. Cruzan – State may require clear evidence of patient’s constitutionally protected refusal of unwanted medical treatment; Scalia rejects distinction between “active” suicide and “passive” declining treatment.

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