CRIMINAL LAW OUTLINE
About this outline: This is a sample Outline from a Criminal Law Course at a top law
school. Use this outline as a study aid for a law school course or as a guide to learning
ï‚· A state acquires jurisdiction if (1) conduct occurred in the state or (2) result occurred in
ï‚· Crimes of Omission: jurisdiction lies where the act should have been performed.
ï‚· Generally, crimes do not merge into another substantive offense
ï‚· 2 Merger Crimes: (1) solicitation, (2) attempt. (note: conspiracy does not merge)
o One who solicits another to commit a crime cannot be convicted of both
solicitation and the completed crime.
ï‚· Never merge crimes that have different victims*** (see transferred intent)
Elements of Crime
ï‚· Actus Reus (guilty act)
o Conduct which is the product of your own volition
o Reflexive or convulsive acts do not qualify as an act (i.e. seizure, unconsconsious)
o Duty to Act: General Rule- no duty to act or rescue,
ï‚§ Exceptions (1) by statute; (2) by contract (nurse, lifeguard); (3) B/c of
relationship between parties (parent, spouse); (4) Voluntarily assuming a
duty of care to someone else and then failing adequately to do it; (5)
Where âˆ†s conduct created peril
ï‚· Mens Rea (guilty mind)
ï‚· Concurrence (Act and mental state existed at the same time)
ï‚· Causation & Harmful Result
Intent (Mens Rea)
ï‚· Specific Intent Crimes
o All 3 inchoate crimes (solicitation, attempt, conspiracy), assault, larceny,
embezzlement, false pretenses, robbery, burglary, forgery.
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o Specific Intent Defenses Only = voluntary intoxication, mistake (reasonable &
unreasonable-unlike other malice and general intent where only reasonable
mistake is allowed)
o Murder, Arson
o âˆ†s who commit these crimes claim specific intent defenses (cept no unreasonable
mistake or voluntary intoxication.
o Duress is not a defense to homicide
ï‚· General Intent Crimes
o General Intent= awarements of acting in a prescribed way.
o Intent is inferred from the act.
o Transferred Intent: if âˆ† intended to harm victim 1 but harmed victim 2, her intent
is transferred. Never merge different crimes that have different victims (shoot at
1, hit 2= attempt and murder)
ï‚· Strict Liability
o Any defense that negates intent is a defense to strict liability.
o Aka regulatory offenses: if crime is in the administrative, regulatory, or morality
area and you look at the crime and donâ€™t see anything like â€œknowingly, willingly,
intentionallyâ€ then it is a crime of strict liability. i.e offenses part of regulatory
o Mistake of facts is not a defense.
o Statutory rape
ï‚· Accomplices are liable for the crime itself AND al other foreseeable crimes.
ï‚· We donâ€™t give accomplice liability simply because the person is present at the crime.
They must be actively in on the crime. I.e taking partyïƒ doing something.
o Mâ€™Naghten Rule: at time of âˆ†s conduct, âˆ† lacked ability to know wrongfulness of
his actions, or understand the nature & quality of his actions.
o Irresistible Impulse Rule: âˆ† was unable to control his actions or conform to the
o Durham Rule: âˆ†s conduct was a product of mental illness
o Model Penal Code: âˆ† lacked the ability to conform his conduct to the
requirements of the law.
o Involuntary Intoxication: = form of insanity (defense to ALL crimes, including
strict liability crimes)
o Voluntary Intoxication: (defense ONLY to specific intent crimes)
o Under 7 = no criminal liability
o Under 14 = rebuttable presumption
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o Use of Non-Deadly Force: a victim may use non-deadly force in self-defense any
time victim reasonably believes force will be used on them.
o Use of Deadly Force: (Majority= can use deadly force if victim reasonably
believes deadly force will be used on them.) (Minority= victim must retreat to the
wall if it is safe to do so; i.e. duty to retreat