Criminal Law Web

Analytic Structure: American Law Institute Model Penal Code

I. Definition: Criminality ("Offense")
Does the behavior constitute criminal conduct? (was a (penal) law violated?)

  A. in general: Does the penal code apply? (jurisdiction [ยง1.03])

B. in particular: Does the behavior meet the definition of a particular criminal offense defined in the penal code? (art. 2) (see principles of legislativity & prospectivity)
1. What are the elements of the offense as defined?

(a) Actus Reus (i) Conduct [2(3)] - required ("(voluntary) act requirement") (ii) Circumstances - may be required (e.g. 18(1)) - e.g. nature of offender or victim (offender's spouse [10(10)]); legality (unlawful assembly [22(5)], self-defence against unlawful force [3(10)]); time (aggravated criminal intrusion [12(2)]); place (public place [21(3), 22(1)]); (absence of) consent (assault [7(1)]) (iii) Result - only required in result offenses (e.g. murder [6(3)])
(b) Mens Rea: Mode of Culpability, Mental State (w/ respect to each element) - may be required (manslaughter [6(2), murder [6(3)]) - rules of interpretation: 2(4) - e.g. purpose, knowledge, willful blindness, recklessness, criminal negligence (due diligence defence), [wilfulness] (see comparative chart)

2. Does the behavior satisfy each element of the offense?
(a) Conduct - act [2(3)(a)] - voluntariness (see lack of control [3(1)], mental disorder [3(6)]) - omission [2(3)(b)] (see also failure to rescue [10(2)]) - imputation/derivative liability (corporate liability [2(5)], furthering [4(2)] - [instruments] - complicity (furthering [4(2)]) - corporate actors [2(5)]

(b) Circumstances (e.g. (absence of) consent: 7(1)) (c) Result (e.g. death: 6(3)) - causation [2(6)] - factual - legal

(d) Mode of Culpability (w/ respect to each element) - mental state negatived by: (i) mistake "of fact" (i.e. as to satisfaction of offense element [3(2)]) (ii) intoxication [3(3)] (iii) [diminished capacity]
II. Justification: Illegality/Unlawfulness/Wrongness ("Defense")

    Is the criminal conduct unlawful generally speaking? (was the law violated?)

		A.	in general (nature of justification; justification vs. excuse)
		B.	specific defenses
			1.	law administration and enforcement [3(13)(b)] 
2. authority (3(13)(a)) 3. defense (self, another [3(10)(a)]; property [3(11), (12)]
[4. necessity [3(9)]]

C. reasonable mistake as to satisfaction of justification element [3(17)]
III. Excuse: Inculpation/Responsibility/Accountability/Blameworthiness ("Defense") 
Can the accused be held culpable for the facially criminal conduct?
A. Did the accused lack the capacity for conduct? (incapacity) 1. mental disorder [3(6)] - (exculpatory) intoxication [3(3)] 2. immaturity [3(4)]
B. Was the accused incapable of exercising his capacity for culpable conduct? (inability/impossibility/unavoidability)? 1. duress (a) personal [3(8)] (b) circumstantial (see necessity [3(9)]) [2. provocation (not in draft code)] 3. superior orders [3(15)] 4. entrapment 5. abandonment (suggested as mitigating factor in sentencing [4(7)]) 6. mistake (ignorance) "of law" [3(7)] (a) reliance on official misstatement [3(7)(b)(iii)] (b) unreasonable mistake re: satisfaction of justification element [3(17)]