in order to prove a person committed a crime, a prosecutor must prove mens rea, actus reus, concurrence and proximate cause. As you can imagine, unless a person confesses it is very difficult to prove mens rea. Absent a confession, attorneys look for clues to prove mens rea. These clues are usually referred to as circumstantial evidence. You look at the person’s conduct to infer what was the intent. In addition, as stated in chapter 3, all of the elements must be present for someone to be convicted of a crime. If any of the elements are missing, then a crime has not been committed, unless the conduct constitutes a strict liability crime.
In the following scenarios, what factors would you use to support that the person had the intent to commit the crime? What was the criminal act? What was the proximate cause to the harm/injury? I want you to focus on identifying the different elements and the facts that support the element.
1) Sally lost her temper while at a restaurant because she believed she was billed incorrectly. While arguing with the waiter, she slams her chair into the table and is waving her hand in the waiter’s face. Micheal and his 2 year old son are trying to get by Sally because Michael’s son has to go to the bathroom. They bump into Sally which causes Sally to slap the waiter. The applicable assault statute: A person commits assault if they intentionally hit another person. Did Sally commit assault? Defend your answer.
2) Mary was meeting Carla at the mall. Mary decides to go to the Apple Store to browse because she is thinking of getting an Ipad. She has an iPad in her hand when Carla enters the store, sees Mary, puts her arm around her and pushes her out the store because they are going to be late for the movie. Mary still had the ipad in hand. The applicable statute reads: A person committed theft if they had the intent to take another person’s property without permission. Did Mary steal the Ipad? Defend your answer.
3) Beth was on her way home on the train. She was sitting next to a woman who was sleeping. The woman’s purse was partially open and an amount of cash was visible on top of the purse. When Beth reaches her stop, she takes the money as she gets up from the seat and places the money in her pocket. She exits the train and goes home. The applicable robbery statute reads: A person committed robbery if they intentionally take another person’s property from the person by force or displaying a weapon. Did Beth commit robbery? Defend your answer.
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