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Terms and vocab pertaining to the criminal law section of the NALA CLA exam.


a wrong committed against society or against the community in general

federal jurisdiction

1. D.C, U.S. territories, and federal property
2. Persons on American ships or aircraft or over international territory
3. conduct of American citizens abroad
4. conduct or activities within individual states when the power to regulate the conduct or activity is expressly granted by the Constitution

state jurisdiction

1. an offense committed within the state.
2. conduct outside the state that constitutes an attempt to commit or conspiracy to commit and offense within the state
3. conduct within the state that constitutes an attempt to commit or a conspiracy to commit an offense outside the state
4. omission to perform a duty required by a state law is an offense in that state, regardless of where the offender is located at the time of the omission.

sources of criminal law

1. common law
2. The Constitution
3. Statutes
4. Administrative rules
5. Model Penal Code


an attempt to overthrow the government or to betray the government in favor of a foreign power.

capital crime

a crime for which the punishment may be death


a crime for which the maximum punishment may be death or may be imprisonment for one year or more


a crime for which the maximum punishment may be imprisonment for less than one year

ex post facto law

laws that operate retroactively. They are illegal in the U.S.

Interpretation of criminal laws

1. plain meaning rule
2. strict construction
3. effect of repeal

essential elements of a crime

1. Actus Rea
2. Mens Rea
3. Causation:
4. Harmful Result

actus rea

guilty act: a physical act (or unlawful omission) by the defendant

mens rea

guilty mind: the state of mind (intent) of the defendant at the time of her act

specific intent

a crime that is committed in such a way that a specific intent must accompany the wrongful act

general intent

a crime that requires merely that the accused is aware that the prohibited act is being committed and that the prohibited result is likely to occur

transferred intent

EX: If A intends to shoot B but misses, shooting C instead, the concept of this allows A to be found guilty of C's murder even though A's intent was directed at B.

strict liability

a crime in which the commission of the prohibited act renders the defendant guilty, without regard to her intent

purposeful intent

when one consciously desires or seeks one's conduct to cause a particular result

knowing intent

when one is aware that one's conduct is almost certain to cause a particular result

reckless intent

when one is aware that there is a risk one's conduct might cause a particular result

negligent intent

when one should be aware that there is a risk that one's conduct might cause a particular result

principal or actor

one who, with the required mental state, engages in the act or omission that causes the criminal result

aider and abettor

one who aids, counsels, helps, procures, commands, or encourages another in the commission of the crime


one who is liable for all crimes committed during and furtherance of the conspiracy

accessory after the fact

one whose involvement does not begin until after the crime has been completed


consists of inciting, counseling, advising, inducing, urging, or commanding another to commit a felony with the specific intent that the person solicited would commit the crime


1. an agreement between two or more persons
2. an intent to enter into an agreement
3. an intent to achieve the object of the agreement
4. an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy by at least one party


Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
1. The defendant receives money or income
2. from a pattern of racketeering activity
3. and invested it in an enterprise
4. which is in interstate commerce or affects interstate commerce


an act which is done with the intent to commit another crime but which falls short of completing the crime for one reason or another.

mental state defenses

1. insanity
2. intoxication
3. infancy

M'Naghten Test

Insanity test that decides by these factors whether a defendant should be acquitted or not:
1. a disease of the mind
2. which caused a defect of reason
3. such that the defendant lacked the ability at the time of her actions to either: 1. know the wrongfulness of her actions or 2. understand the nature and quality of her actions

Irresistible Impulse Test

Insanity test that if the proof establishes that because of mental illness, she was unable to control her actions to conform to the law

Model Penal Code Insanity Test

Burden of proof required:
1. he suffered from a mental disease or defect
2. as a result, lacked substantial capacity to either: 1. Appreciate the criminality of his conduct or; 2. conform his conduct to the requirements of law


sometimes the commission of an otherwise prohibited act is justified, making it inappropriate to punish the perpetrator

justifiable use of force

1. self-defense
2. defense of others
3. defense of property
4. crime prevention
5. resisting arrest


the 'lesser of two evils' defense. This may justify conduct that otherwise would be criminal if, as a result of pressure from natural forces, the defendant reasonable believes the conduct necessary to avoid harm to society exceeds the harm caused by the conduct.


is when the intent to commit a crime originates through the creative activities of a law enforcement officer rather than with the defendant.


1. an attempt to commit a battery or;
2. the intentional creation (other than by mere words) of a reasonable fear in the mind of the victim of imminent bodily harm


an unlawful application of force to the person of another which results in bodily injury or results in an offensive touching


1. intent to kill
2. intent to inflict great bodily harm
3. awareness of an unjustifiably high risk to human life
4. intent to commit a felony

voluntary manslaughter

an intentional killing for which adequate provocation existed. AKA passion killing

involuntary manslaughter

an unintentional killing, such as the type that occurred as a result of criminal negligence or the type that occurred while committing a misdemeanor crime

first degree murder

1. deliberate and premeditated killing
2. a killing committed while committing certain felonies

false imprisonment

the unlawful confinement of a person without her consent


1. involves movement (asportation) of victim or;
2. concealment of the victim in a 'secret' place


sexual intercourse committed without a person's consent, by use of force


a taking and carrying away of personal property of another by trespass with intent to deprive permanently the person entitled to its possession with intent to steal


fraudulent conversion of property of another by person in lawful possession of the property with intent to defraud


making a false document or altering an existing document to make it false and passing the document to another with intent to defraud


a taking of personal property of another from the other's person or presence by force or intimidation with the intent to permanently deprive the other person of it.


(blackmail) obtaining property from another by means of oral or written threats


if he enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof, with the purpose to commit a crime therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the actor is licensed or privileged to enter.


the starting of a fire or causing an explosion for the purpose of destroying the building or occupied structure of another


making a false statement while under oath

Fourth Amendment

unreasonable search and seizures
exclusionary rule

Fifth Amendment

privilege against forced self-incrimination
double jeopardy

Sixth Amendment

right to speedy trial
right to public trial
right to trial by jury
right to subpoena witnesses
right to confront witnesses
right to assistance of counsel

Eighth Amendment

excessive bail prohibited
cruel and unusual punishment

exceptions to warrant requirement

1. search incident to a lawful arrest
2. exigent circumstances plus probable cause
3. inventory searches
4. consent
5. stop and frisk
6. hot pursuit, disappearing evidence, and other emergencies

plain view rule

Officers may conduct a warrant-less search when they 1. are legitimately on the premises 2. inadvertently discover fruits or instrumentalities or crime and 3. see evidence in plain view


This and other forms of electronic surveillance violate a reasonable expectation of privacy under the 4th Amendment

criteria for issuing a wiretap

1. a showing of probable cause to believe that a specific crime has been or is being committed
2. the persons suspected, whose conversations are to be intercepted, must be named
3. the warrant must specifically describe the conversations that can be intercepted
4. the wiretap must be limited in time
5. provision must made to terminate the wiretap once the necessary information has been obtained
6. a return must be made to the court, showing what conversations have been intercepted

Miranda warning

1. He has the right to remain silent
2. Anything he says can be used against him in court
3. He has to right to have an attorney present
4. If he cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed if he desires

right to trial by jury

only applies to serious offenses aka if it carries a possible punishment of more than six months' imprisonment

right to be represented by counsel at

1. custodial police interrogation
2. post-indictment interrogation, whether custodial or not
3. preliminary hearing to determine probable cause to prosecute
4. arraignment
5. post-charge lineup
6. guilty plea and sentencing
7. a felony trial
8. a misdemeanor trial when imprisonment is imposed
9. appeals as a matter of right

burden of proof in criminal cases

beyond a reasonable doubt

nolo contendere plea

a plea that neither admits nor denies guilt but for purposes of sentencing is seen as guilty plea. However, cannot be used in a civil trial.

elements of a crime

intent, motive, burden of proof

solicitation defenses

his or her culpability is measured by the circumstances as he or she believes them to be.

defenses to conspiracy

withdrawal and termination of conspiracy

defenses to attempt

abandonment before completion

false pretenses

obtaining title to property by consent gained through fraudulent misrepresentation with intent to defraud

exclusionary rule

the gist of this rule is to exclude evidence obtained in an unconstitutional way.

exclusionary rule exceptions

1. if the state can show it was obtained from a source independent of the original illegality
2. if an intervening act of free will of the defendant breaks the chain between the evidence and the original illegality.
3. if the state can show that the evidence inevitably would have been discovered anyway.

criminal procedure timeline before a trial

1. police investigation
2. complaint
3. arrest
4. initial appearance (bail)
5. preliminary hearing
6. information
7. arraignment (enter plea)

plea bargaining

happens sometimes at the arraignment and sometimes before or during the trial, the prosecution and the defense may negotiate for and agree to the dismissal of one charge in exchange for the defendant's guilty plea to another or to a reduction to a less serious charge.

when a case is appealed, the appellate court will base its decision on

the record of the lower court

when a witness is instructed to appear and bring specific document with him or her

subpoena duces tecum

example of false pretenses

Ben Williams, who tricked his elderly uncle into signing a deed to convey title of the uncle's farm to Ben.

double jeopardy is prohibited by

the Fifth Amendment

the 'fruit of the poisonous tree' doctrine derives from

the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments

a suspect can be required to produce voice and blood samples before she or he has been charged with a specific crime


no double jeopardy

Fifth Amendment

right to counsel

Sixth Amendment

due process required of states

Fourteenth Amendment

no excessive bail

Eighth Amendment

freedom of speech

First Amendment


a repeat offender of a criminal statute


knowledge, sometimes called 'guilty knowledge'

If a decision must be supported by a scintilla of evidence, the evidence must be

the slightest shred

When a party fails to appear in court after proper notice, the court may issue a ______ for his or her arrest


corpus deliciti

body of the crime


rendered by a jury at the end of a trial

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