Criminal Law: Control vs. Liberty 03/02/2014
George Zimmerman Case
Very specific qualities for juries.
Rule of Law
Standards of behavior and privilege are established by laws and not by monarchs or
We are all subject to criminal law.
Why do governments make laws?
1.To forbid and prevent conduct that unjustifiably inflicts or threatens harm to individuals or public interests;
2.To subject to public control persons whose conduct indicates that they are disposed to commit crimes;
3.To safeguard conduct that is without fault from condemnation as criminal;
4.To give fair warning of the nature of the conduct declared to constitute an offense;
5.To differentiate on reasonable grounds between serious and minor offenses.
Types of Law
Procedural What do Laws do?
Common sense mostly.
Support the powerful People who get to make the law are the powerful. You almost have to know people to
get stuff done.
Mala In Se
Acts which are prohibited because they are considered harmful in themselves. Murder, rape, theft
Acts which are prohibited because of the law, and not necessarily because they are harmful or inherently
Drug use, Prostitution, immoral but not necessarily harmful.
How are laws made?
July 1 of every year.
We can write our own laws, cannot be less restrictive then federal law, can be more restrictive.
Should states have the right to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, in lieu of the Federal
Controlled Substance Act?
A federal agent can legally arrest people for marijuana in Colorado even though it’s legal. Local Criminal Law
Homerule vs. Statutory. (Home rule write out own.)
Misdemeanor in nature.
Enacted by majority vote of council.
Cannot deny rights guaranteed by state constitutions or U.S. Constitution
Principle of Legality
Citizens cannot be punished for conduct for which no law against it exists.
The law must prevent against harm.
Ex Post Facto Laws
Provides that citizens cannot be punished for actions committed before laws against the actions were
passed and the government cannot increase the penalty of a specific crime after the crime was committed.
Cannot be arrested or tried for a crime committed prior to law being affective.
Substantive Limits the government’s power to criminalize behavior unless there is a compelling reason for
the public interest to do so;
Procedural – requires that the government follow standard procedures and treat all defendants equally.
The US system of developing and applying case law on the basis of precedent established in previous
Police can no longer “hobble” prisoners, (tying hands and legs) because of ruling in Wyoming case, where
obese man died from it. Void for Vagueness
Laws that do not use clear and specific language to define prohibited behaviors cannot be upheld.
A New Jersey (1939) law provided as follows: "Any person not engaged in any lawful
occupation, known to be a member of any gang consisting of two or more persons, who
has been convicted at least three times of being a disorderly person, or who has been
convicted of any crime, in this or in any other State, is declared to be a gangster."
Laws have to be clear and specific.
Right to Privacy
Laws that violate personal privacy cannot be upheld
Void for Overbreadth
Laws that go too far in that they criminalize legally protected behavior in an attempt to make some other
behavior illegal cannot be upheld.
General Crime Categories
Tried to do the crime, but didn’t complete the crime. Model Penal Code
Big book that classifies all crimes
Guidelines for U.S. criminal codes published in 1962 by the American Law Institute that classify and define
crimes into categories. Crimes are classified according to the victim of the crime.
Classified by crimes against state, persons, habitation, property.
Crimes against Person
Killing of a person by another person
Nonconsensual sexual act
The unlawful taking or attempted taking of property that is in the immediate possession of another by force
or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.
Assault and Battery
Hitting someone who doesn’t want to be hit. The unlawful, intentional inflicting, or attempted or threatened inflicting, of serious injury upon the person of
another. While aggravated assault and simple assault are standard terms for reporting purposes, most state
penal codes use labels like firstdegree and seconddegree to make such distinctions.
The taking away by force of a person against his or her will and holding that person in false imprisonment.
Taking someone somewhere they don’t want to go.
Charged with kidnapping: moved from kitchen to the bedroom in domestic abuse cases
Crimes against Habitation
Combines two lessserious offenses – trespassing combined with the intent to commit (another) a crime.
Entry, combined with