Kansas Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

Kansas Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

I. Fundamental Principles of Criminal Law

A. Actus Reus (Guilty Act)

Actus reus refers to the physical component of a crime. It is the voluntary act, omission, or state of being that is prohibited by law.

B. Mens Rea (Guilty Mind)

Mens rea is the mental state that accompanies a criminal act. The Model Penal Code (MPC) categorizes mens rea into four levels: purpose, knowledge, recklessness, and negligence.

C. Strict Liability

Strict liability offenses do not require mens rea regarding at least one element of the actus reus. The defendant is liable for committing the act, regardless of intent.

II. Homicide

A. Murder

Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. Malice can be expressed or implied and involves intent to kill, inflict serious harm, a depraved heart, or during the commission of a felony (felony murder rule).

B. Manslaughter

Manslaughter is a lesser form of homicide and is divided into voluntary (heat of passion) and involuntary (criminal negligence or during an unlawful act).

C. Felony Murder Rule

In Kansas, the felony murder rule is codified under K.S.A. 21-5402. It applies when a death occurs during the commission or attempted commission of a felony.

III. Justifications and Excuses

A. Self-Defense

An individual may use reasonable force to protect themselves from an imminent use of unlawful force by another person. The use of deadly force is only justified in situations where there is a reasonable belief of serious bodily harm or death.

B. Insanity

Insanity is a defense to criminal charges based on the lack of mens rea due to a mental disorder. Kansas follows the M’Naghten Rule for insanity.

C. Duress

Duress is a defense that excuses a defendant from liability if they were compelled to commit a crime due to the threat of imminent harm.

D. Mistake of Fact/Law

Mistake of fact is a defense when it negates mens rea; mistake of law is generally not a defense unless it negates the required mens rea.

IV. Inchoate Crimes

A. Attempt

An attempt is an act done with the intent to commit a crime that falls short of completing the crime. In Kansas, an attempt is punishable under K.S.A. 21-5301.

B. Conspiracy

Conspiracy requires an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime and an overt act in furtherance of the crime.

C. Solicitation

Solicitation involves asking, encouraging, or requesting another person to engage in criminal conduct with the intent that the person commits the offense.

V. Crimes Against Property

A. Larceny

Larceny is the taking and carrying away of personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

B. Burglary

Burglary is the unlawful entry into a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime therein. Under K.S.A. 21-5807, burglary is defined with particular structures and intentions.

C. Robbery

Robbery is the taking of property from the person or presence of another by force or threat of force.

D. Arson

Arson is the willful and malicious burning of property. Kansas law, under K.S.A. 21-5813, divides arson into different degrees based on the circumstances of the offense.

VI. Case Law

A. State v. Limon (2005)

Issue: The constitutionality of a Kansas statute that provided a longer sentence for same-sex statutory rape as opposed to opposite-sex statutory rape.
Rule: The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Analysis: The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the statute violated the Equal Protection Clause because it discriminated on the basis of sex.
Conclusion: The statute was struck down, and sentencing for statutory rape must be consistent regardless of the gender of the parties involved.

B. State v. Hendrix (2013)

Issue: The admissibility of prior crimes in determining criminal intent.
Rule: Kansas law under K.S.A. 60-455 allows the introduction of evidence of prior crimes to prove motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or accident.
Analysis: The court held that evidence of prior crimes was admissible to show intent.
Conclusion: The conviction was affirmed because the prior crimes evidence was pertinent to the defendant’s intent.

C. State v. Robinson (2003)

Issue: Whether the jury instructions on self-defense were appropriate.
Rule: Kansas law requires that self-defense instructions be given when supported by evidence.
Analysis: The court found that the jury instructions on self-defense were not appropriate as they did not accurately reflect the law.
Conclusion: The court reversed the conviction and remanded for a new trial with proper self-defense instructions.

VII. Preparing for the Final Exam

To prepare for the final exam in Kansas Criminal Law, students should:

  1. Understand and memorize the key concepts, definitions, and legal principles covered in this guide.
  2. Read and brief all assigned cases, paying special attention to how Kansas courts interpret and apply the law.
  3. Practice applying the law to hypothetical situations through practice exams and essay questions.
  4. Review class notes, discussions, and any supplementary materials provided by the professor.
  5. Form study groups to discuss and clarify difficult concepts and case law.

This study guide provides a starting point for a comprehensive understanding of criminal law as taught in a Kansas law school 1L course. Students should use this guide in conjunction with class materials and instruction for thorough exam preparation.

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