Monday, December 19, 2005

Outline - Criminal Law - IV - Homicide

Criminal Law (2005 Fall)


  1. Overview

    Because different levels of homicide all involve the unlawful killing of another human being, we’re most concerned with the level of intent, which separates homicide into “murder” and “manslaughter”.

      Mens Rea Type of Homicide Cases/Notes
    Murder Premeditated or intentional (express malice) 1st Degree Murder or Intentional Murder Carroll, Guthrie
    Recklessness “plus” depraved indifference to human life (implied malice) 2nd Degree Murder or All Other Murder Girouard, Malone, Fleming
    Manslaughter “Provocation” or EED (MPC) Voluntary Manslaughter  
    Recklessness Involuntary Manslaughter Welansky
    Criminal gross negligence Negligent Homicide (MPC) Welansky
    Civil negligence (rare) Negligent Homicide (rare) Williams

    Of the many intent factors, we’ll concern ourselves primarily with premeditation and provocation, which distinguish 1st and 2nd degree murders. We’ll then explore manslaughter as a group.

  2. Premeditation
    1. Time factor
      1. Carroll – Defendant remembered gun, guilty of premeditated murder. No time is too short.
      2. Guthrie – Defendant killed victim after being insulted. Court rejects Carroll. Some period of time required to form intent. Intent is not the same as premeditation.
    2. Anderson – Defendant killed 10-year-old daughter of girlfriend. Explosion of violence inconsistent with premeditation and deliberation.
    3. Pillbury – Premeditation a bad measure of culpability.
  3. Provocation

    Because provocation implies impaired intent and thus can be used to reduce murder to manslaughter, the question we ask here is, “What’s enough to incite a ‘reasonable person’?”

    1. Elements
      1. Actual heat of passion
      2. Legally adequate provocation [Girouard]
      3. Absence of cooling time [Maher]
    2. Girouard – Defendant killed wife after being taunted. Words alone are not enough as a matter of law.
    3. Maher – Defendant shot at wife’s suspected lover. Objective standard of ordinary human nature in judging whether provocation was sufficient or reasonable (including reasonableness of cooling time).
    4. Excuse (frailty of human nature) vs. justification (victim contributed)
  4. MPC § 210.3 - Manslaughter
    1. Reckless; or
    2. Committed under extreme emotional disturbance (EED) with reasonable explanation or excuse.
      1. Defendant was under EED (jury question).
      2. Defendant’s behavior was reasonable under EED (objective).
    3. Cassassa - Defendant broke into former love interest’s home several times, finally killing her with a steak knife. Court found he was under EED, but that his actions were not reasonable even under EED.

  5. Recklessness and Negligence
    1. Recklessness in Murder
      1. Malone – Defendant killed victim while playing Russian Roulette. Court found recklessness and “callous disregard” for human life, upheld 2nd degree murder conviction.
      2. Fleming – Defendant killed victim while driving in oncoming traffic, with 0.315% blood alcohol, in high-speed police chase. Driving drunk, and driving recklessly while drunk, is “recklessness ‘plus’”, conviction for 2nd degree murder upheld.
    2. Recklessness and Negligence in Manslaughter
      1. Welansky – Night club owner knew of facts that would have given reasonable awareness of danger, which court held the same as knowing of danger. Defendant held liable for involuntary manslaughter due to recklessness.
      2. Williams – Defendants did not give their baby reasonable access to medical care. Although not criminally negligent, court held them civilly negligent, and imposed liability for negligent homicide under statutory manslaughter.

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