Ohio Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

I. Introduction to Criminal Law
An overview of criminal law includes understanding the foundations of criminal liability, the criminal justice system, and the various types of crimes. It also includes understanding the principles of actus reus, mens rea, and concurrence.

II. Actus Reus
Actus reus refers to a guilty act. This concept implies that a crime has been committed by an action, rather than a thought or intention. The act must be voluntary for it to be considered a crime.

  • Relevant Case: People v. Decina (1956) – A man with epilepsy didn’t take his medication and while driving, had a seizure and killed four people. Court held that he voluntarily decided to drive which led to the deaths.

III. Mens Rea
This refers to the state of mind indicating culpability which is required by statute as an element of a crime. Elements include purpose, knowledge, recklessness, and negligence.

  • Relevant Case: State v. Sanford (Ohio 1986) – The court held that the presence of mens rea (knowledgeably and purposely) is necessary for a conviction.

IV. Concurrence and Causation
The act and mental state must coincide. The defendant’s actions must be both the actual and proximate cause of the harm.

  • Relevant Case: State v. Lovelace (Ohio 2001) – The court held that the act and mental state of the defendant concurred and were the direct cause of the victim’s death.

V. Homicide
In Ohio, homicide is divided into Murder (purposeful killing or intent to cause serious harm resulting in death) and Manslaughter (reckless killing or killing under provocation).

  • Relevant Case: State v. Cotton (Ohio 1978) – The court held that the defendant was guilty of murder due to his purposeful intent to kill the victim.

VI. Defenses
This section covers defenses such as insanity, self-defense, and entrapment. In Ohio, the defendant needs to provide a preponderance of evidence to claim self-defense.

  • Relevant Case: State v. Shane (Ohio 1992) – The court held that the defendant proved beyond a preponderance of evidence that he acted in self-defense.

VII. Attempt and Conspiracy
Attempt refers to an unfulfilled crime, while conspiracy refers to an agreement to commit a crime. Both require intent.

  • Relevant Case: State v. Davis (Ohio 1979) – The court held that the evidence supported a conviction for conspiracy, as the intent and agreement to commit a crime were present.

VIII. Rape and Sexual Assault
Rape is non-consensual sexual contact involving penetration, while sexual assault is non-consensual sexual contact without penetration.

  • Relevant Case: State v. Hensley (Ohio 1985) – The court held that the defendant was guilty of rape due to lack of consent from the victim.

IX. Property Crimes
These crimes involve the taking of money or property without consent, such as theft, robbery, and burglary.

  • Relevant Case: State v. Williams (Ohio 1981) – The court held the defendant guilty of robbery as he forcibly stole property from the victim.

X. White Collar Crimes
These crimes involve illegal activities committed by individuals in the business world, such as fraud, embezzlement, and insider trading.

  • Relevant Case: United States v. Gray (Ohio 1996) – The court held that the defendant was guilty of fraud due to his deceptive practices in business.

The study of these concepts, cases and applicable laws will provide an overarching understanding of criminal law in the context of Ohio State law. This guide should serve as a resource and revision tool to prepare for exams.

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