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Criminal law some key terms

Retribution: punishment
Deterrence: discouraging criminal acts by threatening punishment
Rehabilitation: A program for reforming the offender to prevent later offenses
Specific Deterrence: A goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to prevent a particular offender
from engaging in repeat criminality.
General Deterrence: punishment of criminals that is intended to be an example to the general
public and to discourage the commission of offenses
Actus Reus: guilty act
Voluntas: desire; will; wish.
voluntary: of your own free will or design
Mens Rea: guilty mind
Automatism: the performance of actions without conscious thought or intention.
willful omission: takes place when agents have actual knowledge of a material fact and a duty
to disclose such fact to a buyer, seller, tenant, or landlord, but deliberately fail to disclose such
Heat Of Passion: a violent and uncontrollable rage resulting from a provocation that would
cause such a response by a reasonable person
Premeditation: considering the criminal act beforehand, which suggests that it was motivated
by more than a simple desire to engage in an act of violence
Knowingly: not intending to cause a specific harm but being aware that such harm would be
Purposely: the most blameworthy mental state requiring the actor's "conscious object" to be to
commit crimes or cause criminal results
Recklessly: without thinking of the consequences
voluntary manslaughter: A homicide in which the intent to kill was present in the mind of the
offender, but malice was lacking.
involuntary manslaughter: unintentional killing as a result of extremely reckless conduct
willfully: deliberately, of one's own free will
malum in se: wrong in itself
malum prohibitum: Evil because prohibited rather than inherently evil
felony murder: the killing of someone during the commission of certain felonies, regardless of
intent to kill
inherently dangerous: A legal term used to describe an act or course of behavior (usually a
felony) that, by its very nature, is likely to result in death or serious bodily harm to either the
person involved in the behavior or to someone else.
malice aforethought: originally the mental state of intentional killing, with some amount of
spite, hate, or bad will, planned in advance of the killing
first degree murder: killing that is premeditated, deliberate, and done with malice
second degree murder: killing that is done with malice, but without premeditation or
depraved heart: Reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to human life (a form of
malice for common law murder/second degree murder)
res gestae: Latin for "things done." Statements made by a person present at the time of an
alleged negligent act that are admissible as evidence in a court of law.
affirmative defense: A response to a plaintiff's claim that does not deny the plaintiff's facts but
attacks the plaintiff's legal right to bring an action. An example is the running of the statute of
beyond a reasonable doubt: The standard that must be met by the prosecution's evidence in a
criminal case: that there is no other logical explanation, based on the facts, except that the
defendant committed the crime
predicate offense: a crime that is a component of a more serious criminal offence. For example,
producing unlawful funds is the main offence and money laundering is the predicate offence.
Generally, the term "predicate offence" is used in reference to underlying money laundering
and/or terrorist finance activity.
rico: Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, is a United States federal law that
provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of
an ongoing criminal organization.
domestic terrorism: acts of terrorism that take place on U.S. soil without direct foreign
strict statutory compliance: compliance with the substantial or essential requirements of
something (as a statute or contract) that satisfies its purpose or objective even though its
formal requirements are not complied with.
strict liability: The legal responsibility for damage or injury even if you are not negligent
public welfare offenses: When a corporation commits a regulatory offense involving public
health or safety, its agents can also be held criminally liable, provided the agents stand in
"responsible relation to the situation" that created a public danger.
general intent: an intention to act without regard to the results of the act
specific intent: an intention to act and to cause a specific result
causation: A cause and effect relationship in which one variable controls the changes in another
proximate cause: Legal cause. It exists when the connection between an act and an injury is
strong enough to justify imposing liability.
supervening cause: In the law of negligence, a new or additional event that occurs subsequent
to the original negligence and becomes the proximate cause of injury.
deliberation: careful consideration
reasonable provocation: The provocation must be sufficiently strong that a reasonable person
would have lost their self-control or temper.
mitigating factors: actions that show the offender's remorse or responsibility, any information
or evidence presented to the court regarding the defendant or the circumstances of the crime
that might result in reduced charges or a lesser sentence
overt act: An essential element of a crime. Without this action by a party, the intent to engage
in criminal activity is not wrongful.
conspiracy: a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful
renunciation: rejection; refusal to acknowledge
criminal attempt: Act or omission constituting a substantial step in a course of conduct planned
to culminate in the commission of a crime.
physical proximity: The distance of one person to another
dangerous proximity: Defendant gets very close to committing the intended crime
indispensable element: Looks at what, if anything, is lacking such that the crime could not be
abnormal step: The abnormal step approach is a standard for distinguishing between
preparation and attempt in a criminal case.
res ipsa loquitur: A doctrine under which negligence may be inferred simply because an event
occurred, if it is the type of event that would not occur in the absence of negligence. Literally,
the term means "the facts speak for themselves."
lying in wait: refers to the act of hiding and waiting for an individual with the intent to kill that
person or inflict serious bodily harm to that person.
substantial step: a significant movement toward completion of an intended result
reconnoitering: examining to gain information
abandonment: the relinquishment, giving up or renunciation of an interest, claim, civil
proceedings, appeal, privilege, possession, or right, especially with the intent of never again
resuming or reasserting it. Such intentional action may take the form of a discontinuance or a
legal impossibility: occurs when actors intend to commit crimes, and do everything they can to
carry out their criminal intent, but the criminal law doesn't ban what they did
factual impossibility: occurs when actors intend to commit a crime and try to but it's physically
impossible because some fact or circumstance unknown to them interrupts or prevents the
completion of the crime
inherent impossibility: A defense to a crime of attempt in which the means the defendant
employs to complete the crime are completely implausible and inappropriate.
self defense: use of force that appears reasonably necessary for the self-protection of an
intended victim
defense of others: Reasonable and proportionate force used to defend another person from
harm or injury.
Justification Defense: a type of defense against a criminal charge in which the defendant admits
committing the act in question but claims that it was necessary in order to avoid some greater
Duty to Retreat: The requirement that a person claiming self-defense prove that she or he first
took reasonable steps to avoid the conflict that resulted in the use of deadly force.
castle doctrine: The legal concept that allows you (in some states) to use force when defending
your property
imperfect defense: when a defendant fails in the full defense but is found guilty of a lesser
perfect self-defense: A claim of self-defense that meets all of the generally accepted legal
conditions for such a claim to be valid. Where deadly force is used, perfect self-defense
requires that, in light of the circumstances, the defendant reasonably believed it to be
necessary to kill the decedent to avert imminent death or great bodily harm and that the
defendant was neither the initial aggressor nor responsible for provoking the fatal
imperfect self-defense: an honest, but unreasonable belief in the justifiability of self-defense
that results in a conviction for manslaughter rather than murder
battered person defense: battered women can use force to defend themselves and sometimes
kill their abusers because of the abusive and sometimes life-threatening situation in which they
find themselves, acting in the firm belief that there is no other way than to kill for selfpreservation. The courts have recognized that this evidence may support a variety of defenses
to a charge of murder or to mitigate the sentence if convicted of lesser offenses. Battered
woman syndrome is not a legal defense in and of itself
model penal code: proposed criminal code drafted by the American Law Institute and used to
reform criminal codes
duress: (n.) compulsion by threat; forcible confinement
m'naghten: If at the time of the offense, he/she did not know the nature and quality of the act
or did not know the act was wrong
irresistible impulse: Defendant lacked the capacity for self-control and free choice. An insanity
defense in which the defendant's mental condition inhibited the ability to control his or her
actions at the time of the offense, even though the defendant may have known the act was
consent: permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. without it, it is
statutory rape: the act of unlawful sexual intercourse by an adult with someone under the age
of consent, even if the minor is a willing and voluntary participant in the sexual act
mistake of law: a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the law relevant to the situation at
mistake of fact: (1) A mistake that is not caused by the neglect of a legal duty by the person
committing the mistake but, rather, consists of unconscious ignorance of a past or present
material event or circumstance. (2) An affirmative defense in which the defendant tries to
prove that she or he made an honest and reasonable mistake that negates the guilty-mind
element of a crime.
escapability: possible defense to duress, reasonable ability to escape
immediacy: The circumstances in which the threats were made must also have offered no
reasonable opportunity for evasive action. But, taken together, the questions of causation and
immediacy have created a weakness in the limitations placed on the defense.
excuse: A situation occurring when a party breaches a contract but is nevertheless not held
accountable for the breach due to the presence of a contingency unknown to or beyond the
party's control, or an intervening governmental regulation that makes performance
commercially impracticable.
Unilateral Conspiracy: An approach to the crime of conspiracy that does not require actual
agreement between two or more persons; under the unilateral approach, when an individual
agrees to commit a crime with an undercover agent who has no intent to commit the crime,
there can nevertheless be a conviction for conspiracy.
Bilateral Conspiracy: An approach to the crime of conspiracy that requires an actual agreement
between two or more persons; under the bilateral approach, when an individual agrees to
commit a crime with an undercover agent who has no intent to commit the crime, there can be
no conviction for conspiracy.
wheel and smoke conspiracy: In a wheel conspiracy, one or more people manage the operation
from the hub, while other participants represent spokes running away from the hub.
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