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Chapter 2- Introduction to Criminal Law


- Criminal Law: branch of law that specifies what conduct constitutes crime and
establishes appropriate punishments for such conduct
o Establishes what degree of intent is required for criminal liability and determines
what defenses may be asserted
- Criminal Procedure: rules of procedure by which criminal prosecutions are governed
- Freedom: the ability to act without interference
o We still have limits in place by government
- People are able to receive benefits of organized fair government and govt establishes laws
that protect people from one another and other nations
- Varies greatly b/w countries
- Need for intervention increases with population and dependence of people
- Civil liberties: liberties guaranteed by Constitution and Bill of Rights
o Harder to protect the more the government gets involved in private lives of
- Only intervenes in serious acts
o Society and its fears determine what is important or stressed
- Specific deterrence: to discourage individuals already convicted of crimes from
committing crimes in the future
- General deterrence: to discourage all members of society from engaging in criminal
- Incapacitation: restraint, doesnt seek to deter, but prevent crimes by restraining those
who have committed them
o Jail, execution, meant for those beyond rehabilitation
- Rehabilitation: if criminal is subject to educational and vocational programs, it is possible
to alter the individuals behavior
- Retribution: punishment is societys method of avenging a wrong
o Public retribution keeps victims from privately seeking retribution
- Many laws from many sources
- Common Law: legal system that originated in England and is composed of caselaw and
statutes that grow and change, influenced by changing custom and tradition
o Brought to US by colonists
o Judge-made
Stare decisis: judicial decisions stand as precedents for cases arising in the
Precedent: prior decisions of the same or higher court, which a judge must
follow in deciding a subsequent case presenting similar facts and the same
legal problem, even though different parties are involved and years passed

o Early states all adopted common law and is part of their constitutions, but now
many have strayed away from it
o Can help fill in gaps left out by state legislatures, but also does away with idea
that if there is no statute there is no crime
Due Process Clauses: 5th and 14th amendment require that no person be deprived of life,
liberty, or property w/out having notice and a real chance to present his testimony
Statutory Law: legislatures dont have unlimited authority to create criminal law
Ordinances: laws of a local or city
o Enacted by city councils, apply only to acts occurring within the jurisdiction
o Cant conflict with state or federal law
Administrative Law:
o Social welfare agency: put government programs in effect
o Regulatory agency: oversee and regulate certain aspects
o Make more precise laws based on basic statutes provided by legislature
o Regulations: rules that are put out by local government agency
Court Rules: rules promulgated by the court, governing procedure or practice before it
o Fills gaps left by legislation
o Drafted by highest court in state and voted on by court or passed by legislation
Model Penal Code: a proposed criminal code prepared jointly by the Commission on
Uniform State Laws and the American Law Institute
o Purpose was to make laws uniform throughout states, not all have adopted it tho
Constitutional Law
o Doesnt define criminal activity, but has an impact on it
o Many state constitutions mirror federal, but can be interpreted to provide more

1. What are civil liberties? Give 2 ex of civil liberties that are protected by the Constitution
of the US.
2. What is the common law? How do the concepts of stare decisis and precedent relate to
the common law?
3. The common law is different in every state. Why?
4. What does the Latin phrase nullum crimen sine lege translate to? Explain its
5. Explain how the common law can violate the principle of legality.
6. State 3 uses the common law has in criminal law in those jurisdictions that do not permit
common law creation of crimes.
7. What is the source of most criminal law today? Where does that law come from?
8. What is an ordinance?
9. What is a regulation?
10. What is a court rule?
11. Place the following sources of law in order of authority, beginning with the highest form
of law and ending with the lowerst. Notice that both state and federal sources of law are
included: US Code, state constitutions, federal administrative regulations, ordinances, US
Constitution, state administrative regulations, state statutes.

1. In theory, people can increase their freedom by establishing a govt and relinquishing
freedoms (civil liberties) to that govt. Explain why this paradox is true.
2. List the various purposes for punishing criminal law violators.
3. -6. Using your answers from 2, determine if the goals of punishment can be achieved if
prosecution is sought for the following acts:
3. John, having always wanted a guitar, stole one from a fellow students room while that
student was out.
4. Jack suffers from a physical disease of the mind that causes him to have violent episodes.
Jack has no way of knowing when the episodes will occur. However, the disease is
controllable with medication. Despite this, Jack often does not take the medicine, as he finds
the injections painful and inconvenient. One day, when he has not taken the medicine, Jack
had an episode and struck Mike, causing him personal injury.
5. Same facts as 4, except there is no treatment or medication that can control Jacks
behavior. He was diagnosed as having the disease years prior to striking Mike and has caused
such an injury before during a similar violent episode.
6. Unkown to Kevin, he is an epileptic. One day while he was driving his car, he suffered his
first seizure. The seizure caused him to lose control of his car and strike a pedestrian,
inflicting a fatal injury.