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Criminal Law Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

Party Liability

person who actually commits the actus reus of the crime
person who aids or abets the principal prior to or during the crime; must intend to help principal; mere knowledge is insuff­icient
Accomplice Liability for Other Crimes
accomplice is liable for any crimes that are the natural and probable conseq­uence of the accomp­lice’s conduct
to legally withdraw, an accomplice must repudiate prior act, do all that is possible to counte­rmand prior assist­ance, and do so before the Chaim of motion is unstop­pable
Accessory after the fact
person who aids a felon to avoid appreh­ension after the felony is committed; must know felony was committed

Respon­sib­ility- Insanity

The defendant is not guilty if, because of a mental disease or defect, the defendant did not know either (i) the nature and quality of the act, or (ii) the wrongf­ulness of the act.
Irresi­stible Impulse
The defendant is not guilty if a mental disease or defect prevented him from being able to conform his conduct to the law.
Durham Rule
The defendant is not guilty if the crime would not have been committed but for the mental disease or defect.
Model Penal Code
The defendant is not guilty if a mental disease or defect either prevents the defendant from knowing the wrongf­ulness of the conduct or prevents the defendant from being able to conform his conduct to the law

Respon­sib­ility- Intoxi­cation

is a defense to specific intent crimes if the intoxi­cation prevents the formation of the required intent; not a defense to crimes involving malice, reckle­ssness, or neglig­ence, or for strict­-li­ability crimes
Involu­ntary Dissol­ution
defense to both general and specific intent crimes, as well as malice crimes when the intoxi­cation serves to negate an element of the crime

Respon­sib­ility- Mistake of Fact

General Intent
Only reasonable mistake may be used as a defense
Specific Intent
Any mistake of fact is a potential defense; even unreas­onable mistakes


Killing a person
a living person must die
Actual and Proximate Cause (Inter­vening or Supers­eding causes)
Common Law Murder
the unlawful killing of a human being committed with malice aforet­hought
Malice aforet­hought
intent to kill, intent to inflict serious bodily harm, reckless indiff­erence to an unjust­ifiably high risk to human life, intent to commit a felony
Felony Murder
a defendant can be found guilty for the unintended but forese­eable killing that is proxim­ately caused by or during the commission or attempted commission of an inherently dangerous felony; BARRK
Defenses to Felony Murder
death was unfore­see­able; point of safety
Death of a bystander (majority rule)
defendant will not be liable for the death of a bystander caused by a police officer or as a result of resistance by the victim of the felony because neither person is the felon’s agent. KEY=agency
Death of a co-felon
defendant will not be liable for the death of a co-felon if a victim or police officer kills the co-felon
First Degree Murder
Premed­itated and deliberate
defendant had enough time to plan and reflect on the idea of the killing
made the decision to kill in a cool and dispas­sionate manner
Second Degree Murder
Homicide with necessary malicious intent (to kill, to do great bodily injury, or depraved heart)
Voluntary Mansla­ughter
murder committed in response to adequate provoc­ation (heat of passion)
Objective: reasonable person would have been provoked (words not enough). Subjec­tive: defendant actually provoked
Time to cool off
Objective: There must not have been sufficient time for an ordinary (reaso­nable) person to cool off; Subjec­tive: The defendant also must not have actually cooled off.
Involu­ntary Mansla­ughter
an uninte­ntional homicide committed with criminal negligence or during an unlawful act
Criminal Negligence
Grossly negligent action that puts another person at a signif­icant risk of serious bodily injury or death. MPC also requires awareness
Unlawful Act
unlawful act that does not rise to felony murder and a death occurs as a result

Other Crimes Against the Person

Criminal Battery
The intent­ional unlawful applic­ation of force to another person that causes bodily harm to that person, or consti­tutes an offensive touching
Criminal Assault
An attempt to commit a battery, or intent­ionally placing another in appreh­ension of imminent bodily harm
The unlawful confin­ement of a person against that person’s will coupled with either movement or concea­lment of that person
False Impris­onment
The unlawful confin­ement of a person without consent. Other person must be aware of confin­ement or must be harmed
Unlawful sexual interc­ourse with a person against his/her will by force or threat of immediate force.

Crimes Against Property

The trespa­ssory taking and carrying away of the personal property of another, without consent, with the specific intent to perman­ently deprive the owner of the property at the time of the taking
The fraudulent conversion of the property of another by a person who is in lawful possession of the property
False Pretenses
defendant obtains title to the property of another person through reliance of that person on a false repres­ent­ation of material fact made by the defendant with the intent to defraud. Repres­ent­ation must be false and material
A larceny by force or intimi­dation when the taking of property is from the victim or in his presence
he breaking and entering of the dwelling of another at nighttime with the specific intent to commit a felony therein

Inchoate Crimes

An agreement between two or more people to accomplish an unlawful purpose with specific intent to agree and commit the criminal object + an overt act in furthe­rance of the conspi­racy. NO merger
Liability for Co-con­spi­rator crimes
conspi­rator is liable for the conspiracy and all the crimes of a co-con­spi­rator committed in furthe­rance of the conspiracy
Withdrawal (majority rule)
requires a substa­ntial step toward the commission of a crime coupled with the specific intent to commit the crime. Mere prepar­ation is not enough. MERGES
once the defendant has taken a substa­ntial step toward the commission of the offense, the defendant may not legally abandon the attempt to commit the crime
Individual invites, requests, or commands another person to commit a crime. MERGES


the use of reasonable force to protect oneself at a reasonable time; Deadly force may only be used to protect against the use of deadly force
Imperfect Self-D­efense
Too much force for the circum­stances may mitigate a murder charge down to voluntary mansla­ughter
third party’s unlawful threat causes a defendant to reasonably believe that the only way to avoid death or serious bodily injury to himself or another is to violate the law, and that causes the defendant to do so
Duress and Homicide
duress is not a defense to intent­ional homicide, but it is available for criminally negligent homicide