Criminal Law § 1 M.H. Hoffheimer

Final Exam University of Mississippi

Law School

Spring 1995

General instructions

This is a closed book exam. Do not speak with any person other than the faculty member who is administering this exam until you have turned in your exam. Do not remove any exam materials, questions, or blue books from the room during the exam. After you complete the exam and turn in your blue books, you may take the questions with you when you exit the room.

The exam consists of two parts. You will have three hours to complete the exam, and recommended times are indicated for each part. Answer all questions.

Identify yourself on your blue books only by your exam number. By placing the exam number on your blue book and by submitting your blue book for credit, you are agreeing to the following pledge (as required by law school policy):

"On my honor I have neither given nor received improper assistance. And I will report any improper assistance that I am made aware of."

PART I. SHORT ANSWERS (recommended one hour total for this part--or an average of ten minutes for each question)

Instructions. Write a coherent, literate response to each of the following problems. Each problem in this part can be answered adequately with a response that is no longer than one paragraph.

1. William Runner lives on a forty acre farm in Snopesville, Mississippi. His property is adjacent to the Big Baptist Church. Runner owns a male horse Trigger, which he likes to ride on weekends. During the week, he usually keeps Trigger either in a stable behind his house, or in an enclosed paddock next to the stable.

One Tuesday morning the sheriff appeared at Runner's workplace and arrested him. It seems that Trigger escaped from his stable and was found grazing on part of Runner's property. Although the property is enclosed by fence, the area where Trigger was observed borders the public highway, is fully visible, and is within 75 feet of the Big Baptist Church.

Runner has been charged with violation of the following Mississippi statute:

A person shall not keep a stallion or jack nearer than one hundred yards to a church, or in public view in an inclosure bordering on a public highway, or nearer thereto, than one hundred yards; nor shall any person stand such animals in open view of any public place. . . Any such offender, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars. . .

Miss. Code Ann. § 97-29-57 (1994). From the Code you can tell that statute is more than 100 years old, and is placed in the chapter on "Crimes against public Morals and Decency." Runner swears he has never heard of this statute before.

There may be good arguments that the statute is invalid. But, assuming it is valid, identify defenses that Runner may have to criminal liability under it.

2. What are the elements of larceny and robbery at common law?

3. Charles was a compulsive gambler. His wife Diane told him that if he ever went to the casinos again, she would leave him.

One day Charles yielded to temptation and went to Zoo-World Casino where he won three thousand dollars. When he returned home Charles lied to his wife and told her that he took the money from the cash register where he worked.

Diane panicked when she saw that the money totaled more than $1000. She told Charles he would never get away with such a theft and tried to persuade him to return the money. Of course, Charles refused.

The next day the police approached Diane at her house while Charles was at work and asked her whether Charles had received a large sum of money the day before. In fact the police were attempting to locate some forged currency that had been distributed as payments at the casino, but Diane assumed they suspected her husband of theft. Accordingly, she lied to the police and told them that her husband had not brought home any large amount of money the day before.

If the prosecution can establish all of these facts, explain what crime it should consider charging Diane with in Mississippi.

4. Same facts. Explain Diane's best defenses be to the crime identified in your response to question three.

5. What is the M'Naghten Rule definition of criminal insanity, and how does it differ from the ALI definition, which was the standard applied in Smith v. State, 614 P.2d 300 (Alaska 1980) (the principal case we read in the case book).

6. What is the test for criminal insanity in Mississippi, and who has the benefit of proving insanity in Mississippi?

PART II. ANALYTIC ESSAYS (recommended two hours total for this part)

Instructions. Write coherent, literate essays in the Blue Book that respond to each of the following problems.

A. The Case of the Talking Corpse (recommended one hour)

Vic, a former drug dealer, provided testimony against Don and Dick which led to their conviction for transporting and selling narcotics. Don and Dick swore revenge. Years later, upon their release from prison, Don and Dick drove to Vic's house, planning to beat him up. Vic was not home, so Don and Dick went into the garage and waited behind some boxes.

About an hour later, Vic drove into his garage. As Vic got out of his car, Don and Dick both stepped out from behind the boxes. Dick struck Vic repeatedly until he fell to the floor of the garage. Then Don pulled out a gun. Dick shouted, "Don't do it! It's not worth it!"

But Don just laughed and shot Vic. Vic fell to the ground, motionless. Both Don and Dick believed he was dead.

As Dick looked down at Vic, he noticed that Vic was wearing what appeared to be a Rollex designer watch. Used Rollex designer watches are worth over $500, and Dick knew it. Dick reached down and pulled the watch off and put it in his pocket. Don watched and said nothing. Don and Dick then ran away from the crime scene.

Fortunately, Vic has recovered from the gunshot and has survived to testify once again against Don and Dick. Vic will also testify, however, that the watch was really a fake Rollex, worth no more than fifty dollars.

Mississippi law provides:

Every person who shall feloniously take the personal property of another, in his presence or from his person and against his will, by violence to his person or by putting such person in fear of some immediate injury to his person, shall be guilty of robbery.

Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-73. It further provides:

Every person who shall be convicted of taking and carrying away, feloniously, the personal property of another, of the value of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) or more, shall be guilty of grand larceny, and shall be imprisoned in the Penitentiary for a term not exceeding five (5) years. . .

Id. § 97-17-41. If the property is valued at less than $250.00, then the offense, petit larceny, is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for no more than six months. Id. § 97-17-41.

The prosecutor has charged both Don and Dick with attempted capital murder, attempted murder, robbery, and larceny. Please evaluate Don and Dick's liability for the crimes charged.

B. The Case of the Stray Bullet (recommended one hour)

Jesse lives with his brother Frank. One morning Jesse asked Frank if he could borrow Frank's car. Frank asked him what he wanted to use it for, and Jesse explained that he needed it to drive to the Big F Liquor Store to "get some money."

While saying this Jesse displayed a handgun, and Frank knew that Jesse was planning to hold up the liquor store. Frank had served time in prison and did not want Jesse to get arrested. First, Frank tried to talk Jesse out of his plan. But he could not persuade Jesse, and Jesse said, "If you won't lend me the car, I guess I will have to use the bicycle."

Frank was worried that Jesse would almost certainly get arrested or killed if he tried to make a getaway on a bicycle, so he finally agreed to lend him the car. He gave Jesse the keys and said, "Please be careful."

Jesse then drove Frank's car to the Big F Liquor Store. He parked it in front and ran in. He pointed the handgun at Wally, the store owner, and demanded, "Give me all your money."

Wally walked to the cash register and started to hand the money to Jesse. When Wally dropped some money on the floor, Jesse pointed his gun in the air and fired it. Jesse took the rest of the money, fled from the store in Frank's car, and returned home. Jesse tried to give Frank some of the stolen money but Frank refused to take any of it.

The next day Frank read in the newspaper that the bullet Jesse fired during the holdup penetrated through the ceiling and struck the foot of a two-year-old infant who was asleep in an apartment directly above the Big F Liquor Store. The newspaper article explained that the infant was rushed to the hospital. The article reported that, even though the gunshot wound itself was not too serious, the baby died from a severe adverse reaction to the medicine administered at the hospital.

Frank has come to you for advice. He wants to know what crimes Jesse and he may have committed. He refuses to give you details about where the crimes occurred, so you cannot consult any specific statutes. But please advise him in general about what crimes may have been committed by Jesse or Frank at common law and under the Model Penal Code. Advise him about potential criminal liability and explain any available defenses.