Nevada Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

Nevada Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

I. Introduction to Criminal Law

Purpose of Criminal Law
– Deterrence: Prevent future crimes.
– Rehabilitation: Reform offenders.
– Incapacitation: Remove dangerous individuals.
– Retribution: Punish wrongdoing.

Sources of Criminal Law
– Statutes: Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS).
– Case Law: Nevada Supreme Court decisions.
– Model Penal Code (MPC): Influences many states, including aspects of Nevada law.

II. Principles of Criminal Liability

Actus Reus (Guilty Act)
– Voluntary act requirement: A physical act, an omission where there is a duty to act, or possession.
– Status offenses are generally unconstitutional (Robinson v. California).

Mens Rea (Guilty Mind)
– Specific intent: Intent to bring about a particular consequence.
– General intent: Awareness of factors constituting the crime.
– Negligence: Failure to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk.
– Strict liability: No mens rea required; usually for public welfare offenses.

Model Penal Code (MPC) Mens Rea Categories
– Purposefully, Knowingly, Recklessly, Negligently.

Mistake of Fact
– Defense only when it negates the mens rea.

Mistake of Law
– Generally not a defense unless it negates the specific intent.

– Actual cause (cause-in-fact) and proximate cause (legal cause) must be established for liability.

III. Parties to Crime

– Primary actor who commits the crime.

– Aids, abets, or encourages the principal, with intent to promote or assist in the crime.

– Assists after the crime has been committed.

– Renunciation must be complete and communicated before the crime’s commission.

IV. Inchoate Offenses

– An act done with intent to commit a crime, and a substantial step towards its commission.

– Asking, encouraging, or ordering someone to commit a crime.

– Agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime.
– Overt act required in some jurisdictions.

V. Homicide

– First Degree: Premeditated, deliberate intent to kill.
– Second Degree: Intentional killing not premeditated or a depraved heart killing.

– Voluntary: Killing in heat of passion.
– Involuntary: Killing during commission of a non-felony or through criminal negligence.

Felony Murder Rule
– Liability for any death that occurs during the commission of, or in attempt to commit, a felony.

VI. Nevada-Specific Homicide Definitions

Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS)
– NRS 200.030: Delineates degrees of murder in Nevada.
– NRS 200.050: Voluntary manslaughter.
– NRS 200.070: Involuntary manslaughter.

VII. Defenses to Criminal Liability

Justification Defenses
– Self-defense: Reasonable force against imminent harm.
– Defense of others: Similar to self-defense, but in defense of another person.
– Defense of property: Limited to non-lethal force.

Excuse Defenses
– Insanity: Inability to understand the wrongfulness of the act.
– Intoxication: May negate specific intent.
– Infancy: Children under a certain age cannot form criminal intent.

– Compelled to commit a crime due to the threat of imminent harm.

– Crime committed to prevent a greater harm.

– Inducement to commit a crime by law enforcement.

VIII. Nevada Specific Defenses

NRS 194.010
– Codifies insanity defense in Nevada with M’Naghten Rule.

NRS 200.120
– Justifiable homicide in self-defense.

IX. Rape and Sexual Assault

Historical Elements of Rape
– Carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will.

Modern Trends
– Gender-neutral laws.
– Marital rape is recognized.
– Focus on consent rather than force.

Nevada Sexual Assault Laws
– NRS 200.366: Sexual Assault.
– Consent and force are key elements.

X. Property Crimes

– Taking and carrying away property of another with intent to permanently deprive.

– Larceny with the use of force or threat of force.

– Unlawful entry into a building with intent to commit a felony therein.

– Malicious burning of the dwelling of another.

Nevada Property Crime Statutes
– NRS 205: Covers theft, robbery, burglary, and arson.

XI. Review of Key Nevada Cases (IRAC Format)

State v. Hicks (Nevada Supreme Court)
– Issue: The applicability of the felony murder rule in a case where the defendant did not have the intent to kill.
– Rule: Nevada applies the felony murder rule when a killing is a foreseeable consequence of the felony.
– Analysis: The court looked at whether the death was foreseeable and whether there was a causal link to the felony.
– Conclusion: The court upheld the felony murder conviction, finding the death was sufficiently connected to the felony.

Understanding these concepts and how they interplay within the Nevada legal context is crucial for any 1L student. It is essential to review Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS), study Nevada-specific case law, and understand how general principles of criminal law apply within the state’s legal framework. Regular case briefs, utilizing the IRAC method, and application of these principles in hypothetical scenarios will prepare students for the final semester exam in Nevada Criminal Law.

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