New Mexico Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

New Mexico Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

I. Introduction to Criminal Law:
Criminal law deals with behaviors that are sanctioned under criminal penalty by the state. It is the body of law that relates to crime and sets out the process for addressing violations through punishment. In New Mexico, criminal laws are codified in the New Mexico Statutes Annotated (NMSA).

  • Actus Reus: A physical act, omission, or state of being that is forbidden by law.
  • Mens Rea: A guilty mind or intention to commit a prohibited act.

II. Hierarchy of Laws:
Understand the hierarchy of laws from the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, New Mexico Constitution, and New Mexico statutes.

III. Elements of a Crime:
For a defendant to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

IV. Substantive Criminal Law:
Substantive criminal law defines the rights and responsibilities of individuals and outlines the penalties and modes of treatment applicable to convicted offenders.

  • Mala in Se vs. Mala Prohibita: Distinguishes between acts that are inherently wrong and those that are wrong because they are prohibited by law.

V. Homicide:
Homicide is the killing of one person by another and can be classified as justifiable, excusable, or criminal.

  • Murder: The unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.
  • Manslaughter: A lesser form of homicide where the intent to kill may be absent or present but lacks malice or is committed under certain mitigating circumstances.

State v. Doe (Review under IRAC format)

VI. Assault and Battery:
Assault is an attempted or threatened battery, while battery is the unlawful application of force to another person.

State v. Smith (Review under IRAC format)

VII. Sexual Offenses:
Sexual offenses include acts such as rape and sexual assault. Consent and the capacity to give consent are critical aspects of these offenses.

State v. Johnson (Review under IRAC format)

VIII. Theft and Property Crimes:
Theft involves the unauthorized taking of property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it. Property crimes also encompass burglary, robbery, and arson.

State v. Lopez (Review under IRAC format)

IX. Inchoate Crimes:
Inchoate crimes involve actions taken toward the completion of a criminal act and include attempts, conspiracy, and solicitation.

State v. Martinez (Review under IRAC format)

X. Defenses to Criminal Liability:
Several defenses can negate elements of a crime, such as insanity, intoxication, self-defense, necessity, and duress.

  • New Mexico Uniform Jury Instructions: Review the relevant jury instructions for defenses as they articulate the standards for each defense under New Mexico law.

State v. Young (Self-defense) (Review under IRAC format)
State v. Garcia (Insanity) (Review under IRAC format)

XI. Constitutional Protections:
Criminal defendants have constitutional protections, including the right to counsel, protection against self-incrimination, and the right to a fair trial.

  • Fourth Amendment: Search and seizure.
  • Fifth Amendment: Right against self-incrimination.
  • Sixth Amendment: Right to a fair trial and the right to counsel.
  • Eighth Amendment: Protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Fourteenth Amendment: Due process and equal protection under the law.

Miranda v. Arizona (Self-incrimination, Review under IRAC format)
Gideon v. Wainwright (Right to counsel, Review under IRAC format)

XII. Criminal Procedure:
The process by which criminal charges are adjudicated, from investigation to trial to appeal.

  • Arraignment: The defendant is formally charged and enters a plea.
  • Plea Bargaining: Negotiations between the defendant and prosecutor for a plea in exchange for a lesser charge or sentence.
  • Trial Process: Jury selection, opening statements, presentation of evidence, closing arguments, jury instructions, deliberation, and verdict.

State v. Nguyen (Review under IRAC format)

XIII. Punishment and Sentencing:
Sentencing in criminal cases must conform to statutory guidelines. New Mexico has its own sentencing guidelines that must be understood.

XIV. Special Topics:
Hate Crimes: Crimes motivated by bias are subject to enhanced penalties in New Mexico.
Juvenile Offenders: The juvenile justice system in New Mexico has different procedures and goals from the adult criminal system.

XV. Review of New Mexico Statutes and Case Law:
– Focus on the New Mexico Criminal Code (NMSA 1978, §§ 30-1-1 et seq.).
– Familiarize with New Mexico Supreme Court and Court of Appeals decisions that interpret criminal statutes and constitutional protections.

Final Notes:
To prepare for a final semester exam in New Mexico 1L Criminal Law, read the relevant statutes, review the assigned case law, and understand how the principles apply within the New Mexico legal context. Additionally, consider practicing issue-spotting with hypothetical scenarios, as exams often include fact patterns that require application of the concepts learned.

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