Sample Criminal Justice Questions and Answers
- What is the difference between conspiracy and solicitation? Define both in your answer and give an example of each.
Conspiracy is a situation in which two or more persons jointly agree to commit an unlawful act, or an action that seems innocent but ends up unlawful if the persons involved combine to engage in the act. It is an act that is separate from the crime itself. e.g., if two people conjure up to commit an unlawful act, they can be charged with both unlawful act and conspiracy (Samaha 17). It is identified as a crime on its own. It is punishable by law since it is a manifestation of an intent to engage in a criminal or unlawful act. Solicitations refer to a situation where an individual asks another to commit a crime. e.g., if an employee, after leaving an employer mails letters to customers of his former employer asking for business, is violating the solicitation clause. In a prostitution situation, if the police use a decoy undercover agent to nab persons soliciting for sex from a prostitute and if they approach the undercover agent by gestures, request, or words, they can be arrested for soliciting for sex. While conspiracy involves two or three people, a solicitation can be committed by one person (Samaha 19).
- What are the differences between legal impossibility and factual impossibility?
Legal impossibility is a defense mechanism to an accusation of an attempted unlawful act. In it the actor’s intention is illegal, but commissioning the act becomes impossible because of a mistake concerning the lawful arrangement of the attendant (Samaha 45). The act may be found guilty if the attempted act is intended towards an unlawful act. Factual impossibility is a criminal defense mechanism used by an accused if the crime did not materialize because it was impossible to execute or undertake. e.g., an accused charged with attempted murder whereby the poison used for the murder is fake and cannot kill (Samaha 49). However, even if the defendant did not succeed in the act, he can be found guilty. In factual impossibility, the accused can be found guilty, however, with legal impossibility, an accused may not be found guilty due to the legal aspect of a mistake.
- What are general attempt statutes and specific attempt statutes? How do these two differ?
General attempt statutes set the parameters of the intention to commit a crime and apply them to any given unlawful act. Specific attempt statutes define the intention to commit a crime only to specific unlawful acts for instance, rape, murder, robbery. While specific attempt statutes are precise on a given unlawful act, general attempt statute sets parameters to all unlawful crimes without specification.
- What are the differences between manslaughter and murder?
Manslaughter is the criminal act of killing that lacks in an aforethought or malice. It does not involve the intention to kill, harm, or inflict extreme pain in a victim. Manslaughter is less of a criminal offense than murder. Murder is the criminal act of killing with an intent or valid excuse more so that of another human being (Samaha 68). It differs from manslaughter because with murder, the killer or accused had a valid reason to kill with malice and intent. e.g., if one mistakenly shoots another, it is manslaughter, but if he shoots with the intent to kill or harm with an aforethought, then it is murder according to law (Samaha 187).
- What is malice aforethought? Give an example.
Malice aforethought is a premeditated intent to kill or cause bodily injury to another. Often in case of murder, aforethought is required to prove a first degree murder. e.g., committing a robbery with violence and in the process of stealing, shooting and killing or causing serious bodily harm to the victim. Killing the victim is premeditated as the one who commits the crime understands full well that failure to kill or cause bodily harm to the person may jeopardize the robbery (Samaha 271).
- List and define the different types of homicide as discussed in Chap. 9 – include in your answer the different types of mens rea required for each. Also provide an example of each kind.
- Murder: refers to the killing of another person with intent. It requires culpability. e.g., killing during a robbery with violence.
- Manslaughter: refers to killing an individual without any intent or aforethought. e.g., killing someone accidentally during a shootout practice.
- Justifiable Homicide: refers to committing a murder in self-defense. It does not require culpability or mens rea. e.g., defending oneself during a robbery, in which the victim kills the attacker. It does not require any form of culpability (Samaha 205).
- Excusable Homicide: the act of killing in which the accused is not in the right senses or state of mind. It does not require culpability.
- Under Arizona law, what are the various homicide statutes/laws? List by number and give a brief explanation/definition of each.
- 13-1102 Neglect homicide: Entails death caused by another person’s negligence. e.g., causing the death of an unborn child.
- 13-1103 Manslaughter: Involves killing another person through recklessness, intentional murder, knowingly causing the death of another e.g. of an unborn baby.
- 13-1104 Second Degree Murder: Killing without premeditation e.g. participating in the fatality of a person that results in the demise of an unborn baby.
- First degree murder: Refers to killing another person with the full knowledge that the death of that person will cause death to another e.g., understanding that an individual’s behavior will cause the death of another. As provided by section 13-703 first degree murder is punishable by death.
Samaha, Joel. Criminal justice. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2000.