Arizona Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law
Introduction to Criminal Law
Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime and provides the legal parameters within which criminal acts are prosecuted and punished. It regulates social conduct, proscribes threats, harm, or otherwise endangering the health, safety, and moral welfare of people.
Actus reus refers to the physical act of committing a crime. It must be a voluntary act, an omission where there’s a duty to act, or possession.
Mens rea is the mental state or intent behind committing a crime. Levels of mens rea include purpose, knowledge, recklessness, and negligence.
Strict liability offenses do not require a mens rea. An individual can be guilty simply by performing the actus reus.
In criminal law, causation is the “causal relationship between conduct and result.” It is divided into factual causation (“but-for” causation) and legal causation (proximate causation).
The principle that the actus reus and mens rea must occur together for a crime to have been committed.
Homicide is the killing of one human being by another. It is classified into various types, such as murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide.
- State v. Shattuck (1989)
- Issue: Whether the evidence was sufficient for a conviction of premeditated murder.
- Rule: Premeditation must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Analysis: The court considered the evidence and concluded that Shattuck had ample time to reflect and had formed the requisite intent to kill.
- Conclusion: The conviction was affirmed.
Arizona Homicide Statutes
Arizona law distinguishes between different degrees of homicide:
– First-degree murder (A.R.S. § 13-1105)
– Second-degree murder (A.R.S. § 13-1104)
– Manslaughter (A.R.S. § 13-1103)
– Negligent homicide (A.R.S. § 13-1102)
Assault and Battery
In Arizona, assault is the intentional, knowing, or reckless causing of any physical injury or putting someone in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury (A.R.S. § 13-1203). Battery is not separately defined in Arizona and is often charged as assault.
Rape and Sexual Offenses
Sexual offenses in Arizona include sexual assault, which is intentionally engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with another person without consent (A.R.S. § 13-1406).
Theft and Robbery
Theft involves unlawfully taking someone else’s property with the intent to deprive them of it (A.R.S. § 13-1802). Robbery is theft accomplished through force or fear (A.R.S. § 13-1902).
Burglary in Arizona is illegally entering or remaining in a structure with the intent to commit any theft or felony therein (A.R.S. § 13-1506 to 13-1508).
Defense of Justification
Defenses that justify conduct include self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, and law enforcement defense.
- State v. King (1982)
- Issue: Whether the trial court erred in refusing to give a requested instruction on the defense of property.
- Rule: An instruction on the defense of property is warranted if evidence supports the defense.
- Analysis: The court found no evidence that the property was in immediate danger.
- Conclusion: The refusal to give the defense instruction was affirmed.
These include insanity, duress, intoxication, and age. Arizona follows the M’Naghten rule for insanity, which focuses on the defendant’s ability to know right from wrong at the time of the offense.
- State v. Mott (1992)
- Issue: What standard should apply to the insanity defense?
- Rule: Arizona uses a version of the M’Naghten rule with an added provision for those suffering from a mental disease or defect.
- Analysis: The court discussed the balance between moral blameworthiness and managing mental illness.
- Conclusion: The court upheld the modified M’Naghten standard.
An attempt to commit a crime is an act done with the intent to commit that crime, coupled with a direct but ineffectual act toward its commission (A.R.S. § 13-1001).
Accomplice liability holds individuals legally responsible for the criminal behavior of another if they help, encourage, or facilitate the commission of a crime.
Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime at some time in the future, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that crime (A.R.S. § 13-1003).
Sentencing and Punishment
Arizona Revised Statutes Title 13, Chapter 7, provides guidelines for sentencing and punishment, including determinate sentencing, aggravating and mitigating circumstances, and capital punishment.
The Model Penal Code (MPC)
While not law in Arizona, the MPC is a secondary source that can offer insight into criminal law concepts. It may be referenced for its perspectives on mens rea, defenses, and attempts.
Case Briefing and IRAC Method
Throughout your study of criminal law, it’s crucial to read and brief cases using the IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) method to understand how courts apply criminal law principles.
– While studying, pay attention to Arizona-specific statutes and interpretations, as state law can vary significantly from federal law and the laws of other states.
– The Arizona Supreme Court decisions are binding authority on Arizona law and highly relevant to your studies.
Preparing for a Final Exam
– Understand the elements of crimes and defenses.
– Learn how to apply the law to various fact patterns.
– Review all statutory law relevant to the course.
– Practice writing essay answers using the IRAC format.
This study guide provides an overview of the key concepts and statutory laws for a 1L criminal law class with a focus on Arizona law. As you prepare for your final exam, focus on understanding the principles, practicing case analysis, and becoming familiar with Arizona’s specific criminal statutes and case law.