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September 16, 2018

Making it through "mistakes" by mapping statutes' elements (and providing here the being interpreted in Lima)

As we have discussed throughout the semester, it is always important to identify all the critical elements of an offense within a statute (namely those parts of the offense that a prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to show the defendant is guilty of the particular crime charged).  Our discussion of Ohio Revised Code Section 2909.03 highlighted how challenging this can be when legislatures have written statutes in complicated ways (which they often do).

As we are getting deep into the topic of mens rea, you should be starting to appreciate that many elements of an offense within a statute can (and typically do) have both an actus reus and a mens rea component.  For that reason, and especially as we get into the complicated "mistakes" cases, I urge everyone to take the time to map out all the elements with --- both the act and mental states required --- under whatever statute is being debated.  After mapping out the elements, it can and should be easier to identify what particular elements are (and are not) subject to legal or factual debate.

Helpfully, the cases in the text usually set out the applicable statute or explain what elements are at issue.  But not always, as in Lima the then-applicable Rhode Island statute is not provides in the text.  So I have provided it here:

Rhode Island General Laws 1956 (1981 Reenactment) ยง 11-9-5.3: "[w]henever any * * * [caretaker] * * * abuses [a] child by inflicting upon said child a physical injury, to the extent the child is permanently disfigured or disabled, he or she shall be guilty of child abuse in the first degree * * *." 

We will definitely get through Ryan and Lima and probably Baker in our first class this week.  We will definitely finish all the mistake cases and likely get tho capacity by the end of this week.

September 16, 2018 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink


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