06 August 2013

Bar Prep: Criminal Law #2

This is one in a series of posts designed to give you some insight into the questions that one might see on the bar exam, and how one might go about answering them. For similar posts, click here.

QUESTION: Adam is tending his garden when he stumbles upon a cobra. He is frantically swinging a hoe in an effort to kill the snake when he accidentally hits Eve, who was walking by on the sidewalk in front of his lawn. Eve, infuriated, pulls out a gun and shoots Adam and the snake, seriously injuring them both. Assume that Adam is prosecuted for criminal battery. He will probably be found:

A. Not guilty, as no serious bodily injury was inflicted on Eve.

B. Not guilty, for lacking the requisite mental state required for criminal battery.

C. Guilty, because Adam failed to exercise due care when clubbing the snake near the
sidewalk.

D. Guilty, because Adam caused an offensive touching.
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ANSWER: Do not be distracted by Eve's reaction. The question is about Adam's original action. The answer is B, because criminal battery requires a mental state that is either intentional or reckless conduct. Adam lacked both here, as his conduct was clearly not reckless in nature.

A is wrong. A serious injury is not required for battery.

C is wrong because a criminal battery requires a showing of recklessness. Recklessness is much more than a "failure to exercise due care."

D is a potential answer, but not as good as Answer B as it fails to address Adam's mental state during the act.

LEARNING POINT: Most crimes require mens rea.
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