Florida Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

Florida Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

I. Introduction to Criminal Law
– Concept: Criminal law distinguishes crimes from civil wrongs and establishes penalties for unlawful behaviors.
– Key components: Actus Reus (guilty act), Mens Rea (guilty mind), Concurrence, Causation, and Harm.
– Florida Statute: Chapter 775, Florida Statutes defines general principles regarding criminal responsibility.

II. Principles of Punishment
– Concept: Theories include retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation.
– Case: Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963) – Analyzing whether a statute is regulatory or punitive.

III. Actus Reus
– Concept: Requires a voluntary act or an omission where there is a statutory duty to act.
– Case: Martin v. State, 41 So. 2d 316 (Ala. App. 1949) – A person cannot be criminally liable for a conduct which is not the product of his or her own volition.

IV. Mens Rea
– Concept: The mental state required for a particular crime. Includes specific intent, malice, general intent, and strict liability.
– Case: Staples v. United States, 511 U.S. 600 (1994) – Addressing mens rea in the context of a regulatory offense involving possession of a firearm.

V. Homicide
– Concept: Unlawful killing of a human being, ranging from manslaughter to murder.
– Florida Distinction: Florida Statute Section 782.04 defines murder and includes felony murder rule distinctions.
– Case: State v. Montgomery, 39 So. 3d 252 (Fla. 2010) – Reviewing the premeditation requirement for first-degree murder in Florida.

VI. Felony Murder
– Concept: A death that occurs during the commission or attempted commission of any felony.
– Florida Statute: Florida Statute Section 782.04(1)(a)(2) – Lists felonies that can predicate felony murder.

VII. Manslaughter
– Concept: Unintentional killing without malice aforethought, often divided into voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
– Florida Statute: Florida Statute Section 782.07 – Distinguishes between manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or child.

VIII. Rape and Sexual Battery
– Concept: Non-consensual sexual intercourse, with statutes expanding definitions to include various forms of sexual assault.
– Florida Statute: Florida Statute Section 794.011 – Defines sexual battery and consent.
– Case: Boro v. Superior Court, 163 Cal. App. 3d 1224 (1985) – Discussing fraud in fact and fraud in inducement in the context of consent.

IX. Theft and Robbery
– Concept: The unlawful taking of property. Robbery involves theft with violence or intimidation.
– Florida Statute: Florida Statute Section 812.014 – Defines theft; Florida Statute Section 812.13 – Defines robbery.
– Case: State v. Defee, 461 So. 2d 276 (Fla. 4th DCA 1984) – Discussing force required for robbery.

X. Attempt
– Concept: An act done with the intent to commit a crime, but falling short of completing the crime.
– Florida Statute: Florida Statute Section 777.04 – Outlines criminal attempt, solicitation, and conspiracy.
– Case: Smallwood v. State, 113 So. 3d 724 (Fla. 2013) – Analyzing substantial steps towards commission of a crime for an attempt charge.

XI. Insanity Defense
– Concept: A defense based on the lack of mental capacity to form the required mens rea for a crime.
– Florida Statute: Florida uses the test established in McNaughton’s Case and codified in Florida Statute Section 775.027 – Insanity defense.
– Case: Durham v. United States, 214 F.2d 862 (D.C. Cir. 1954) – Introducing the “product test” for insanity, though not followed in Florida.

XII. Self-Defense
– Concept: Justification for using force in defense of oneself.
– Florida Statute: Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law is codified in Florida Statute Section 776.012 and Section 776.013 – Self-defense and home protection.
– Case: State v. Bobbitt, 415 So. 2d 724 (Fla. 1982) – Discussing the duty to retreat in Florida before the “Stand Your Ground” law.

XIII. Accomplice Liability
– Concept: The legal responsibility for a crime that is shared by all who aided or encouraged the principal offender.
– Florida Statute: Florida Statute Section 777.011 – Provides for principal theory in accomplice liability.
– Case: State v. Williams, 623 So. 2d 462 (Fla. 1993) – Establishing when a person can be convicted as a principal under Florida law.

XIV. Double Jeopardy
– Concept: Prohibits a person from being tried twice for the same offense.
– Florida Statute: Double Jeopardy is a constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment, applicable to Florida through the Fourteenth Amendment.
– Case: Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184 (1957) – Explains when retrial is permissible after a jury is unable to agree on a verdict.

XV. Inchoate Offenses
– Concept: Crimes that are steps toward another offense or require further action to be completed, such as conspiracy or solicitation.
– Florida Statute: Inchoate offenses are covered under Florida Statute Section 777.04.
– Case: State v. Adkins, 96 So. 3d 412 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2012) – Exploring the sufficiency of evidence for conspiracy under Florida law.

XVI. Review of Florida Criminal Procedure
– Concept: The process followed in Florida courts for criminal cases, including arrest, charging, discovery, pretrial motions, trial, and sentencing.
– Florida Rules: Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure outline the procedural requirements for criminal cases.
– Case: Crawford v. State, 453 So. 2d 437 (Fla. 1984) – Addressing issues related to pretrial identification procedures.

This study guide provides an overview of key concepts in Florida criminal law and highlights state-specific statutes and case law that may be tested on a 1L final exam. For detailed preparation, students should review class notes, read the statutes and cases in full, and apply the IRAC method (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion) to hypothetical scenarios.

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