LEGL 215 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Espionage Act Of 1917, Fax, Embezzlement
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Key points - Chapter 10 Criminal Law and Cyber Crime
CLASSIFICATION OF CRIMES
Crime: A wrong against society, defined in a statute and punishable by fines, imprisonment,
Felony: A crime that carries the most severe sanction, ranging from one or more year in
prison to forfeiture of one’s life.
Misdemeanor: A lesser crime punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to one year.
Petty Offense: A subset of misdemeanor, comprised of the least serious criminal offenses,
such as traffic violations and jaywalking.
Requisites - A person may not be criminally liable unless they:
1. performed a prohibited act or failed to perform a legally required act
2. did so with a specified state of mind or intent
Absent the requisite mens rea
, which varies from crime to crime, there can be no criminal
liability, even for what seem to be the most heinous acts.
Burden of Proof: Because criminal liability carries harsher penalties than civil liability, and
because the State has many more resources at its disposal in prosecuting a crime than the
typical criminal defendant has at her disposal, the State must prove the alleged criminal’s
guilt of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt
By contrast, a civil plaintiff suing the same defendant need only prove the defendant’s civil
liability by a preponderance of the evidence
(that it is more likely than not that the
defendant’s acts or omissions caused the civil wrong).
Some criminal acts also provide a basis for civil liability.
CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY
A corporation may be criminally liable if:
1. an agent or employee of the corporation
a. commits a criminal act within the scope of her employment and
b. the criminal act violates a statute whose purpose is to impose liability on the
2. the crime consists of a failure to perform a specific duty imposed on the corporation
3. the crime was authorized, requested, commanded, committed, or recklessly tolerated
by a “high managerial agent.”
A corporate officer or director may be criminally liable for:
1. their own criminal acts, regardless of whether she committed them for her own
benefit or the benefit of the corporation, as well as
2. crimes committed by those under her supervision.
Under the responsible corporate officer
doctrine, a corporate officer may be criminally
liable even if she did not participate in, direct, or even know of the criminal violation.
CRIMES OF THEFT
Robbery: Forcefully and unlawfully taking personal property of any value from another; force
or threat of force is typically required for an act of theft to be treated as robbery.
Aggravated Robbery: robbery with the use of a deadly weapon – most serious form of theft.
Burglary: Unlawful entry into a building with the intent to commit a felony (or, in some
states, the intent to commit any crime)
Aggravated Burglary: occurs when a deadly weapon is used or when the building entered
is a dwelling.
Larceny: Wrongfully taking and carrying away another person’s personal property with the
intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
Common law distinguished between grand and petit (petty) larceny depending on the value
of property taken. Grand larceny is a felony, petit larceny a misdemeanor.
OTHER PROPERTY CRIMES
Arson: Willfully and maliciously burning a building (in some states personal property) owned
Arson for Profit: burning one’s own building or other property in order to collect insurance.
Receiving Stolen Goods: receiving goods one knows or has reason to know are stolen
even if not involved with the actual theft.
Forgery: Fraudulently making or altering a writing in a way that changes the legal rights or
obligations of another.
False Pretenses: Obtaining goods by deceiving the person from whom they are obtained
, writing a check knowing there are insufficient funds to cover it, buying goods
using someone else’s credit card number without authorization
Embezzlement: Fraudulently appropriating money or other property one has been entrusted
Mail Fraud: Mailing or causing someone to mail something written, printed, or photocopied
in furtherance of a scheme to defraud by false pretenses.
Wire Fraud: Defrauding the public through the use of telephone, fax, radio, or television.
Bribery: Unlawfully offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting money or other things of value in
order to influence a public decision or action or to gain a personal or business advantage.
Bankruptcy Fraud: Knowingly attempting to evade the effect of federal bankruptcy law.
Insider Trading: Buying or selling publicly-traded securities on the basis of information that
has not been made available to the public.
Theft of Trade Secrets: The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 makes theft of trade secrets,
as well as knowingly buying or possessing another’s trade secrets without the other’s
authorization a federal crime.