Criminal Law

  1. Madera Njala is a working mother of three. On this particular day, she is running late for work as a result of having to take her kids to school because they refused to get up on time and missed the school bus. While driving to work, she is finishing up putting on her makeup and is in the process of putting on lipstick when, as a result of not paying attention, fails to see a stop sign and runs it. An officer sees the violation and stops her and issues her a citation.
    a. What would a fair punishment be based on the nature of her conduct/act? Should she be subject to possible incarceration based on the nature of the act or just a fine? Why?
  2. Now, suppose when she runs the stop sign, Oscar Ruiz, a small boy who is heading to school, is legally walking in the cross-walk when he is struck by Ms. Njala’s vehicle. Oscar is instantly killed. Ms. Njala was traveling just slightly over the speed limit at the time of the accident.
    a. Should Ms. Njala be subject to criminal prosecution or just civil liability? Why? What is the difference between criminal liability and civil liability? What is a tort? What is a Wrongful Death suit?
    b. What is actus reus and mens rea? Did Ms. Njala have the requisite mens rea for criminal liability? If so, what would the appropriate mens rea be? Other than the actus reus and mens rea what are the other basic elements of criminal liability and describe each as it relates to the above factual scenario?
    c. Most accidents involve some negligence on the part of one of the vehicle operators. Should all of those at-fault drivers be subject to criminal prosecution and possible incarceration? If injuries occur, should the at-fault driver always be subject to criminal prosecution? Why or why not? Is it the severity of injuries that should control whether or not a particular accident is a criminal matter or the conduct of the driver?