Utah Law School 1L Study Guide for Criminal Law

Study Guide: Criminal Law at Utah Law School 1L

I. Overview of Criminal Law
Criminal law involves the prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime. It is different from civil law, which involves private disputes between individuals or organizations.

II. Elements of Crime
A crime consists of two primary elements: actus reus (the criminal act) and mens rea (the guilty mind). Both elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction.

III. Specific Intent vs. General Intent
Specific intent crimes require that the defendant intended the precise harmful result, whereas general intent crimes only require an intention to perform the act.

IV. Homicide
Homicide is the killing of one human being by another. It’s categorized into murder (with malice aforethought) and manslaughter (without malice aforethought), which can be either voluntary (intentional) or involuntary (unintentional).

V. Strict Liability Crimes
Strict liability crimes do not require mens rea. Instead, it is enough to prove that the defendant committed the actus reus. Utah recognizes strict liability for statutory rape.

VI. Defenses to Crime
Defenses to crime include self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, necessity, duress, consent, mistake, insanity, and intoxication.

VII. Conspiracy
Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime. In Utah, the crime of conspiracy is completed when one of the conspirators commits an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

VIII. Attempt
An attempt to commit a crime is itself a crime. The essential elements are intent to commit the crime and a substantial step towards its commission.

IX. Accomplice Liability
An accomplice is one who aids, abets, or encourages the principal in the commission of a crime. Utah applies the natural and probable consequences doctrine, which holds an accomplice liable for any criminal acts that are the natural and probable consequences of the crime aided and abetted.

X. Case Analysis
Using the IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) format, analyze relevant cases.

  1. Issue: Identify the key legal question that the case answers.
  2. Rule: Identify the rule of law that the court uses to address the issue.
  3. Analysis: Explain how the court applied the rule to the facts of the case.
  4. Conclusion: Summarize the court’s decision.

Case: State v. Green (Utah 1985)
Issue: Whether Green, who was in a mutually abusive relationship, could use self-defense as a defense to murder.
Rule: In Utah, self-defense is only justifiable if a person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily harm.
Analysis: The court found that Green did not reasonably believe she was in immediate danger when she shot her husband. Therefore, she could not use self-defense as a defense to murder.
Conclusion: Green’s murder conviction was upheld.

Case: State v. Norton (Utah 1991)
Issue: Whether Norton, an accomplice to a robbery, was also guilty for the murder committed during the robbery.
Rule: Under Utah law, an accomplice is liable for any criminal acts that are the natural and probable consequences of the crime aided and abetted.
Analysis: The court found that the murder was a natural and probable consequence of the robbery. Therefore, Norton was guilty of murder as an accomplice.
Conclusion: Norton’s murder conviction was upheld.

Remember, this is a study guide and not a substitute for reading the assigned material, case law, and statutes, attending lectures, and participating in class discussions. The aim is to help you organize your studies and recall key concepts.

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