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November 8, 2011

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Accomplice liability: I was just a lookout – what’s this Murder charge?

Accomplice liability:  I was just a lookout – what’s this Murder charge?

Your two buddies are going to break into a warehouse that holds untold riches.  You’re going to sit across the street with cell phone in hand.  Another buddy is going to be on top of a building behind the warehouse, also with cell phone in hand.  Your jobs are to text your friends inside if […]

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November 3, 2011

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Causation in Criminal Law

Causation in Criminal Law

You can read here for perspective.  I’ll wait.  Go ahead. Back?  Cool. Causation is really funky.  It’s a deep topic that is driven by previous cases offering up very specific fact patterns.  They’ve been distilled into rules, but every criminal case is going to rest on the finest details of that case.  Think of Causation […]

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November 2, 2011

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Mens Rea – The Evil Mind

Mens Rea – The Evil Mind

Mens rea is Latin.  It means “the evil mind.”  (See how it fits into the broader scheme of things here.)  It doesn’t matter if you shot somebody.  There’s lots of non-criminal reasons, beyond cleansing the gene pool, to shoot someone.  Could have been an accidental discharge.  Could have mistaken him for a deer – he was, […]

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November 2, 2011

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I was drunk when I did that. That’s a defense, right? No.

I was drunk when I did that.  That’s a defense, right?  No.

So you did something stupid, probably on a lark.  You busted into somebody’s house, you got touchy-feelly way too much with somebody that said to stop … whatever you did, you were drunk.  You weren’t thinking right.  Alcohol has a way of bringing out bad behavior.  You do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do. You can […]

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November 1, 2011

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Classifying Crimes – Murder, Felony, Misdemeanor, & Summary

Classifying Crimes – Murder, Felony, Misdemeanor, & Summary

We need to focus on just one state in order to get through this topic.  While every state is different, there are a lot of similarities, so using Pennsylvania will be instructive. Here’s the hierarchy from worst to, um, less worse: Murder 1 Murder 2 Felony 1 Felony 2 Felony 3 Misdemeanor 1 Misdemeanor 2 Misdemeanor […]

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November 1, 2011

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Got arrested for DUI? Brace yourself.

Got arrested for DUI?  Brace yourself.

Had a client that back in the 1970s got pulled over for speeding in upstate New York.  Cop did a sobriety test; said he was DUI.  “Here’s your speeding ticket.  Here’s you DUI ticket.  Drive safely.”  Those days are over. About a third of roadway fatalities involve a vehicle operator at or over the legal […]

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October 31, 2011

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Should I get an attorney or represent myself?

Should I get an attorney or represent myself?

It’s no different than being sick and deciding whether to see the doctor.  You got a sniffle?  Deal with it.  Is your arm hanging on by a thread?  Maybe you should see a doctor. First, you have the right to defend yourself all the way through any case – regardless of the severity.  At most, […]

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October 31, 2011

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So I killed this guy. Can I claim self defense?

So I killed this guy.  Can I claim self defense?

I sure hope so, otherwise your next long-term girlfriend is gonna have an Adam’s Apple. First of all, Self-Defense is just that – a defense.  You’ve done everything to be guilty of Murder, but your behavior was excused because of the totality of the circumstances. The initial issue is your use of deadly force.  Chances […]

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October 31, 2011

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What is theft?

What is theft?

Theft – or the older and still sometimes used term Larceny – is a very cool crime.  So much arises out of it – Burglary, Robbery, and Possession of Stolen Property, for example.  Even Trespass. Common Law defined it as the “trespassory taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the intent […]

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October 30, 2011

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The 4th Amendment & Search Warrants

The 4th Amendment & Search Warrants

The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution is a cornerstone of our rights.  Here’s the full text: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, […]

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