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Criminal law notes

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  • 1. I. 2 Main Forms of Law A. Civil Law--governs relationship between individuals or corporations in a society 1. malpractice suits, ownership disputes, breach of contract, etc. 2. The plaintiff usually seeks monetary damages
  • 2. B. Criminal Law 1. Felony—serious criminal offense, may be punishable with prison for a year or more or by death a. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th degree b. Degrees of Murder i. 1st--premeditated (some degree of planning), and deliberated (done on purpose) ii. 2nd--only malice aforethought (intent to inflict serious bodily harm, or to act with wanton disregard for consequences of actions).
  • 3. iii. Voluntary Manslaughter-- homicide without malice (maybe during a sudden quarrel) iv. Involuntary Manslaughter-- Killings that result from negligence-- didn't mean to, but should have known better. (Mainly motor vehicle deaths.) 
  • 4. 2. Misdemeanor--any crime that is not a felony. Less serious. a. Gross misdemeanor--punishable by incarceration, usually in a local jail, for 30 days to 1 year. b. Petty misdemeanor—minor offense, less than 30 days in jail c. Violation--ticketable offense, doesn't go on criminal record.
  • 5. II. Sources of Criminal Law A. Constitutional law 1. Supreme law of the land B. Statutory law 1. Enacted by legislative bodies 2. Can be overturned by (A) C. Administrative Law 1. rules and regulations from government agencies. a. price-fixing, health code violations, EPA violations… D. Case Law 1. law made by court decisions based on their interpretations of the other laws
  • 6. III. Final Note: Laws are subject to interpretation and may be modified as social norms change. a. You probably noticed in Helter Skelter that homosexual acts were considered criminal. The US Supreme Court struck down remaining “anti-sodomy” laws in 2003. Such laws had already been repealed in 37 states.