Three Discussion Questions
What are the elements of a crime? What are some examples of crimes that do not require scienter? What constitutes criminal conduct according to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (1970)? What are the consequences of engaging in these activities? Provide examples.
Burden of Proof: In a civil case, plaintiffs need only to prove that the defendant had committed a civil wrong by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not); in criminal cases the government must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt (not in doubt to a reasonable person). The burden of proof in criminal cases is much higher.
Why? Can you think of examples from the news where someone was found guilty in civil court, but not in criminal court for the same behavior? How can this be?
American criminal law is based on state and federal statutory laws, much of which is derived primarily English common law. This being true, many of our laws have a longstanding tradition. Can you think of examples of laws that need to catch up to the modern world?
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