Section 2: Complexities and Defenses in Criminal Liability

Fundamentals of Criminal Law by Adam J. McKee

Section 2 serves as a comprehensive overview of the multifaceted area of criminal law that deals with accomplice liability, attempts, solicitation, and various defenses. While the foundation of criminal law rests on identifying and punishing individual perpetrators, it is equally critical to examine the frameworks that evaluate the culpability of those who contribute to the commission of a crime indirectly.

Thus, Section 2.1 delves into the intricate nature of complicity, encompassing the key concepts of actus reus and mens rea, modern accomplice statutes, and federal guidelines, as well as a focus on ‘accessories’ to crimes.

The realm of criminal law also addresses actions that come close to, but do not culminate in, the commission of a crime. Section 2.2 discusses the often blurred lines between criminal attempt and solicitation, laying bare the essential elements that convert intention into illegality. This section also scrutinizes the controversial methods used in sting operations and entrapment cases.

Conspiracy theories are not just the stuff of movies; they are an intricate part of the legal landscape. Section 2.3 explores the criminal act of conspiracy, detailing the requisite elements such as agreement and overt act, and discussing varying schemes of punishment.

Our justice system acknowledges that not all actions categorized as crimes are morally or ethically wrong under specific circumstances. Section 2.4 elaborates on justification defenses, including public duty, choice of evils, and the highly debated areas of self-defense and defense of property, among others. The Castle Doctrine and the use of force by law enforcement are also critically examined.

Finally, Section 2.5 offers an in-depth look into ‘excuse’ defenses. This section provides a nuanced understanding of how factors such as ignorance, intoxication, and mental health conditions can potentially mitigate criminal liability. The age-old debate over ‘entrapment’ and the relatively less explored area of ‘infancy’ also find their place in this analysis.

Modification History

File Created:  07/12/2018

Last Modified:  09/12/2023

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This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.


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