Colorado Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

Colorado Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

I. Introduction to Criminal Law
– Definition of Criminal Law: the body of law that relates to crime and the regulation of conduct that is proscribed by the state as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the public’s health, safety, and moral welfare.
– Purpose of Criminal Law: to deter wrongful conduct, punish offenders, and protect society.
– Sources of Criminal Law: U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, statutory law, case law, and administrative regulations.

II. The Colorado Criminal Code
– Understanding the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.): Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes contains the criminal code.
– The Colorado Criminal Justice System: structure, process, and the roles of various participants (e.g., prosecutor, defense attorney, judge).

III. Principles of Criminal Liability
– Actus Reus: the requirement of a voluntary act or an omission where there is a legal duty to act.
– Mens Rea: the mental state required for a particular crime, which can be intent, knowledge, recklessness, or negligence.
– Strict Liability Offenses: crimes that require no proof of mens rea; the commission of the act itself is enough.

IV. Parties to Crime
– Principal: the primary actor or perpetrator of the crime.
– Accomplice: one who aids, abets, or encourages the principal before or during the commission of the crime.
– Accessory: one who assists after the crime has been committed.

V. Inchoate Offenses
– Attempt: taking substantial steps towards the completion of a crime with the requisite intent.
– Solicitation: inducing another to commit a crime with the intent that the crime be committed.
– Conspiracy: an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime and an overt act in furtherance of the crime.

VI. Homicide
– Murder (First and Second Degree): the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought.
– Manslaughter (Voluntary and Involuntary): the unlawful killing of another without malice.
– Colorado-specific Statutes: e.g., Colorado’s “Make My Day” law (C.R.S. 18-1-704.5), which provides immunity under certain circumstances for homeowners who use deadly force against intruders.

VII. Other Crimes Against Persons
– Assault and Battery: varying degrees of intentionally causing bodily harm to another.
– Kidnapping: the taking and carrying away of a person against their will.
– Sexual Offenses: including sexual assault and statutory rape under C.R.S. Title 18, Article 3, Part 4.

VIII. Property Crimes
– Larceny/Theft: the unlawful taking and carrying away of someone else’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of it.
– Burglary: entering a building unlawfully with intent to commit a felony or theft.
– Robbery: taking property from a person by force or threat of force.
– Arson: the willful or malicious burning of property.

IX. Defenses to Criminal Liability
– Justification Defenses: admit the action but claim it was right, e.g., self-defense.
– Excuse Defenses: admit the action was wrong but claim that the actor was not responsible, e.g., insanity, duress.
– Constitutional Defenses: violations of constitutional rights, such as due process or illegal search and seizure.

X. Colorado Case Law

  1. Case: People v. Hall, 999 P.2d 207 (Colo. 2000)

    • Issue: Whether the defendant’s confession should be suppressed due to a violation of the Miranda rights.
    • Rule: Under Miranda v. Arizona, suspects must be apprised of their rights before interrogation.
    • Analysis: The court found that the defendant was in custody and not properly advised of his rights, rendering the confession inadmissible.
    • Conclusion: The court suppressed the confession.
  2. Case: Frazier v. People, 90 P.3d 807 (Colo. 2004)

    • Issue: Whether the defendant’s conduct constituted menacing under C.R.S. 18-3-206.
    • Rule: Menacing is knowingly placing another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
    • Analysis: The court concluded that the evidence presented was sufficient to demonstrate that the defendant knowingly placed the victim in such fear.
    • Conclusion: The conviction for menacing was upheld.
  3. Case: People v. Garcia, 28 P.3d 340 (Colo. 2001)

    • Issue: The admissibility of prior bad acts under Rule 404(b) of the Colorado Rules of Evidence.
    • Rule: Evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts may not be admitted to prove the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith.
    • Analysis: The court determined that the evidence was admissible not to show character but for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, or lack of mistake.
    • Conclusion: The evidence of prior bad acts was properly admitted.

XI. Conclusion
This comprehensive study guide provides an overview of the key concepts and legal principles that 1L students need to grasp in a Colorado criminal law class. By understanding the structure of criminal law, the elements of crimes, and the defenses available, students will be better prepared for their final semester exam. Students should also review the provided case law using the IRAC method to deepen their understanding of how the principles apply to real-world cases.

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