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Spirit of the Law

What the legislative intent of the a particular statute or law

Letter of the law

The Strict interpretation of what the law says

Officer discrestion of the law

The balancing of the spirit of the law and the letter of the law


a set of regulations governing relationship between man and his fellow man, and between man and the state.
All of the rules of conduct established and enforced by the authority, legislaation, or custom of a given community or other group.

Common Law

Statutory and case law background brought over to the Colonies from England and the application of those laws in the colonies prior to the American Revolution

Statutory Law

Legislative Acts passed by the governing body of a jurisdiction (Federal, State, Local)
Usually Codified (Code of Virginia)

Case Law

Appelate court decisions interpreting Consitutions, statutes, common law as applied to a given set of facts


Fundamental Law of the Land
US Constitution
Virginia Constitution

Elements of a crime

A "criminal matter"is a violation of any law or ordinance that subjects the offender to public punishment
(1) Act or omission
(2) By a person (natural or legal)
(3) In violation of a law
(4) Punishment for violation

Civil Matter (tort)

an act that neither affects the common interest nor the community, nor does ot violate the law or ordinances (it can overlap a Crime)

Intent (as it pertains to a crime)

The mental plan to commit the crime
Only in cases where the legislature has clearly expresses otherwise Intent must be proven to convict someone of a crime

Types of Intent

Specific Intent - Compelting what was intended
Constructive or Transferred - Transfer of intent from contemplated results to actual results
General Intent - The determination to engage by commission or omission in conduct declared criminal
Combined or Common Intent - Joint conduct of more than one person
Intent in public welfare offenses - criminal responsibility may arise merely from doing an act without any reference to intent (speeding)
Intent in criminal negligence - Generally negligance must be more than ordinary negligance - gross negligence which negligence is so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show reckless disregard for human life

Four Categories of parties to a crime

Prinicpal in the 1st degree - person who carries out the criminal act
Principal in the 2nd degree - person who aids, but does not have to be physically present
Accessory before the fact - one who is not present and does not aid or abet in any way but does procure, counsel, or command a person to commit a criminal act
Accessory after the fact - a person who knows a felony has been committed and aids a principal or accessory. Cannot punish immediate family for this


the agreement between two or more persons by some concerted action to commit an offense


the intent to commit the crime and the doing of some direct act towards its consummation, but falling short of accomplishment of the ultimate design


any person who commands, entreats, or otherwise attempts to persuade another to commit a felony

Expressed Malice

when one actually intends to commit murder

Implied Malice

Unintentional killing through reckless and wanton doing of an act which from its nature was capable of doing great bodily harm

Dangerous Act Doctrine

Whereas the act itself, regardless of the intentions, creates a dangerous situation, ie shooting into a home with no intent of bodiy harm

Deadly weapon doctrine

Use of deadly weapon is proof of intent to kill; can include ay object which a reasonable person could have expected to cause death

Felony-murder doctrine

comision of a violent felony and death results

Resisting a lawful arrest

assailant must have intent to do great bodily harm

transferred intent

Situation in which the offender intends to injure one person and by mistake or accidental injures another


Capital Murder - willfull, deliberate, premeditated


1st degree murder willfull, deliberate, and premeditated
or 2nd degree murder - willfull and deliberate
ALL MURDER IN THE STATE OF VA is considered 2nd degree until proven otherwise


murder of a pregnant woman


killing of a fetus


felony homicide


voluntary manslaughter
essential elements:
adequate provoacation
heat of passion
no reasonable opportunity to cool
casual connection between provocation and fatal act


Involuntary Manslaughter
the killing of one accidentally contrary to the intentions of the parties involved in some unlawful but not felonious act or in the improper performance of a lawful act.


dui involuntary manslaughter and aggrevated involuntary manslaughter

Crime against a person must have

Intent - some form of criminal intent to inflict physical harm upon the person of another
Overt Act


Malicious wounding, ie stab hoot, cut, or wound with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, kill


malicious wounding to law-enforcement officers and fire fighters


Aggravated malicious wounding, this is when the wounding caused permanent and significant physical impairment


malicious bodily injury by means of any caustic substance, agent, use of explosive or fire


allowing access to firearms by children


an attempted battery, or threat with the present aility to carry out the threat


any rude, angry, or vengeful touching; unlawful touching of persons


assault and battery against a family or household member


the unlawful or wrongful, taking and carrying away, of personal property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner therof


grand larceny
larceny from the person of another valued $5 or more, larceny not from the person of another value of $200 or more, larceny not from the person of another any firearm no matter the value is a felony


Petit Larceny
larceny from the person of another value under $5
larceny not from the person of another value under $200


calling or summoning an ambulance or fire-fighting apparatus withut just cause


discharging firearms or missiles within or at a building or dwelling house


homelessness is not a crime, only trespass violations or loitering can be enforced

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