Chapter Two


                          Study Guide




As you read this assigned chapter, answer the following questions:


A.   Actus Reus - To be convicted of a crime a Defendant must have committed a criminal act or the Defendant must have had a duty to act by law and failed to act.  Remember not all crimes require a specific intent, thus without using the word intent, explain whether the act of the Defendant in each of the following situations are such that Plaintiff should be convicted of a crime.


1.   Defendant slips while walking on sidewalk.  She instinctively reaches out to grasp some support.  Instead, her finger pokes out the eye of the victim, who was also walking on the sidewalk. Has Defendant committed an act upon which a criminal charge should be based?  Why or why not?









2.   Defendant is a sleepwalker.  One night, while sleepwalking, she pushes over and destroys a valuable vase belonging to a neighbor.  Has Defendant committed an act upon which a criminal charge should be based?  Why or why not?







3.   Defendant is walking down a street when he hears a person scream.  He sees a woman being dragged into an alley by a man with a knife in his hand.  Defendant decides to do nothing and walks away.  Has Defendant acted so as to be guilty of a crime against the woman?






4.   Assume the same fact pattern as question number three (3) above, except Defendant recognizes the woman as a neighbor he despised. He was glad to witness her peril and intentionally decided not to intervene.  If the woman is killed, should Defendant be convicted of some form of criminal homicide?






B.   Mens Rea - To be convicted of a crime a Defendant generally must act with a criminal state of mind (exceptions - strict liability crimes). Each crime requires either a purposeful, knowingly, recklessly or negligent state of mind (see elements of each crime).  Note:  Motive is evidence, but not essential to proof of mental state.


1.   During an argument, Defendant shoves victim causing victim serious injury when he fell and hit his head on the ground.  You want to charge Defendant with a crime that requires "purposely or knowingly causing serious bodily injury."  Should Defendant be convicted if he were charged with this crime?








2.   A gets into an argument with B in a tavern.  A goes outside and is fuming.  A gets a shotgun from his vehicle.  B exits and is standing near the tavern door.  A points the gun at B.  Suddenly A's girlfriend grabs the gun and the gun discharges.  A knew the gun had a safety, but did not know whether it was on or not.  A knew the gun was loaded.  A knew there were as many as 75 people in the tavern.  The evidence shows that the gun was pointed toward B and toward the tavern door.  The bullet hits a patron in the tavern and that patron dies.  The crime of involuntary manslaughter is committed by recklessly causing the death of another.  Is a guilty of involuntary manslaughter.  Hint:  Was A acting recklessly?






3.   Defendant consumes between 8-15 beers one night.  While driving he runs a flashing red light.  He never slows down and strikes another car, killing two people.  A person commits vehicular manslaughter if, while intoxicated, he operates a vehicle with criminal negligence so as to cause the death of someone.  Is Defendant guilty?






4.   A person commits the crime of rape if he has sexual intercourse with another person under the age of 14.  Why is it not a defense if the Defendant believed the victim was over 14?








C.   Mistake Defense


1.   Defendant drives away in victim's car, honestly but unreasonably believing that he is driving off in his own car.  Does Defendant have a defense to a criminal charge that requires a "purposely and knowingly mental state?"  What if the crime only requires criminal negligence?









D.   Entrapment Defense


1.   Narcotics agents operating undercover approach Defendant and representing that one of them is suffering from withdrawal, ask Defendant to get them some heroin.  Defendant first refuses, but after several pleas, she complies, procuring the heroin and selling it to the agents.  Defendant is promptly arrested.  In a prosecution for illegal sale of narcotics, can Defendant successfully claim entrapment?




(a)  Would the answer to the question above be different if it were proven that Defendant regularly sold narcotics?



(b)  Can Defendant claim entrapment after testifying at her trial that she had not provided the agents with the heroin?




E.   Duress


1.   X forces D at gunpoint to drive away from the scene of a robbery.  X then compels D to drive into a roadblock, whereupon a police officer is struck and killed.  Does D have a defense if he is charged with a crime related to the robbery?



(a)  Does D have a defense to the charge of intentionally murdering a police officer?