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Criminal Law: Statutes

Criminal Law resources for 1Ls, bar examinees, and other patrons.

Useful Definitions

Accessory: A person who aids or contributes in the commission or concealment of a crime.

Accomplice: A person who is in any way involved with another in the commission of a crime, whether as a principal in the first or second degree or as an accessory.

Actus Reus: The wrongful deed that comprises the physical components of a crime and that generally must be coupled with mens rea to establish criminal liability; a forbidden act.

Attempt: An overt act that is done with the intent to commit a crime but that falls short of completing the crime.

Deadly Force: Violent action known to create a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily harm.

Deterrence: The act or process of discouraging certain behavior, particularly by fear; esp., as a goal of criminal law, the prevention of criminal behavior by fear of punishment.

Justification: A lawful or sufficient reason for one's acts or omissions; any fact that prevents an act from being wrongful.

Mens Rea: The state of mind that the prosecution, to secure a conviction, must prove that a defendant had when committing a crime; criminal intent or recklessness.

Penal Code: A compilation of criminal laws, usu. defining and categorizing the offenses and setting forth their respective punishments.

All definitions come from Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).