Trial Courts Determine Criminal Law

Trial Courts Determine Criminal Law

Trial Courts Determine Criminal Law

Choose a concept or case from this week’s readings reflecting on this concept or case. Please include a legal analysis as well as your personal reflections.

Remember, this reflection paper is to be no less than two (2) pages and no more than three (3) pages in length.

Outline of Chapters 1 and 2

I. Introduction to Criminal Law

A. General Elements of a Crime

1. Actus Reus – The criminal act

a. movement or an act

b. not thoughts

c. possession as an act

i. actual

ii. constructive possession – control

2. Mens Rea – The criminal mind

a. intent

i. specific intent – specific intent to perform a specific crime

ii. general intent – willful commission of an act

3. Concurrence – Having the mens rea and performing the actus reus at the same time

4. Causation – Causing criminal harm

And Sometimes

5. Additional or Attendant Circumstances – Other factors that increase or decrease criminal culpability

B. Criminal Law is formal social control

1. Regulation of conduct with penalties

2. Backed by state sanctioned force

3. Different from informal social control (custom, tradition, politeness)

C. Criminal Law and Punishment

1. Goals of Punishment

a. Deterrence (specific and general)

b. Retribution (just deserts)

c. Incapacitation (prison, fines, etc.)

d. Rehabilitation (reforming/changing offenders)

2. Mala in Se (evil in itself) and Mala Prohibita (evil because society says so)

D. The United States Court System

1. The Three Branches of Government

a. Executive

b. Legislative

c. Judiciary

2. Trial Courts – Determine facts and law

3. Appellate Courts – Determine law/procedure

4. Statutes

a. Two parts

i. proscribed conduct (Don’t do this)

ii. penalty (if you do the proscribed conduct, this is the punishment)

b. Statutes – Codified rules written down as laws

E. Grades of Offenses

1. Treason

2. Felony

3. Misdemeanor

4. Petty Infractions

F. Establishment of Guilt

1. The American criminal court system is an adversarial system – fight within the rules

2. Burden of Proof – In a criminal case the burden of proof:

a. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

b. the State (prosecution) must prove every element of his/her case

3. Role of judge and jury

a. Jury determines guilt

b. Judge

i. enforces the rules (Rules of Evidence, Criminal Procedure, etc)

ii. determines penalty