Ah…Criminal Law. In the competition for which subject can get the most dramatic fact patterns, it’s usually a tie between Criminal Law and Torts. MBE Criminal Law questions vary widely in difficulty, but with a little practice you’ll be mastering your M’Naughtens and acing your Arsons in no time. Speaking of practice, here are some practice questions!
Disclaimer – these are not actual MBE Criminal Law questions. However, I can say with confidence that they are fairly representative of the types of questions you will see, and cover concepts you will need to know. Alright, let’s dive in!
Criminal Law Question No. 1:
Inspector Gadget had a lake house that often sat unused for long periods of time. To keep it safe, he devised and placed a spring-loaded firearm at the front door aimed at the torso of anyone who tried to open it, and he did not place any signs on the property indicating this. Dr. George Claw knew that Inspector Gadget wasn’t in town, and decided to see if there was anything worth taking in the lake house. When Claw broke the front door open the firearm shot and killed him.
Which of the following is the most serious crime that Inspector Gadget can be found guilty of?
B) Involuntary Manslaughter
D) Voluntary Manslaughter
Criminal Law Question No. 2:
Marv and Harry were having corned beef sandwiches in a New York City deli, when Harry saw his acquaintance Kevin walk by the window. Harry excused himself for a moment to say hello and rushed out the door. While Harry was stepping away, the expensive ring he had been fidgeting with slipped to the ground and rolled under the table. Intending to take it for himself, Marv knelt to the ground, picked up the expensive ring, and put it in his pocket. Immediately Marv thought to all the fun adventures he and Harry had shared together, and decided to return the ring when Harry returned. When Harry stepped back to his corned beef sandwich Marv slid the ring across the table and explained what occurred.
Is Marv guilty of:
A) False Pretenses
B) No Crime
Criminal Law Question No. 3
Mrs. Robinson, a recently separated 43-year-old woman, was at the gym when she was approached by Benjamin Braddock. Benjamin flirted profusely, mentioning that he had recently turned 18 when Mrs. Robinson inquired as to his age, and offered to take Mrs. Robinson out to dinner. She agreed, and that evening they had sex at her home. The parents of Benjamin Braddock, who was actually 15, found out and told the authorities. Mrs. Robinson is now charged with statutory rape, with the relevant law providing that sexual activity with a minor under 16 is a felony offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Will Mrs. Robinson be convicted?
A) Yes, because Mrs. Robinson has committed a strict liability offense.
B) Yes, because Mrs. Robinson could have sought further proof that Benjamin had, in fact, recently turned 18.
C) No, because Mrs. Robinson made reasonable attempts to ensure Benjamin was of a legal age.
D) No, because Mrs. Robinson operated under a mistake of fact.
Answer Question No. 1: C
First, I’ll note briefly that these types of “most serious crime” questions are somewhat frequent. Here we’re dealing with the use of deadly traps to defend property, which you may remember from criminal law case analysis. Here the gun was leveled at the torso, and was installed to fire into the torso when the door was opened, which will be sufficient for a murder charge.
A is incorrect because a death occurred, which makes murder a more appropriate charge if it applies. B is incorrect because we had a clear intent to cause harm, both by the nature of the trap and the area it was aiming at on the body. D is incorrect because there was no provocation or “heat of passion” present.
Answer Question No. 2: C
Larceny is the trespassory taking and carrying away the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it. The “carrying away” can be extremely slight, as little as simply slipping the object into a pocket. Marv fulfilled all these elements when he picked up the ring, with the intent to keep it, and slipped it into his pocket; any following regret or decision to return it will not defeat these elements from being met.
A is incorrect because false pretenses require the acquisition of title by some kind of deception, neither of which occurred in this question. B is incorrect because a crime, larceny, did occur. D is incorrect because a prerequisite to embezzlement is first having lawful possession of the property in question, which was not the case here.
Answer Question 3: A
Here the problem provides a description of the relevant statutory rape law, which will be a strict liability crime. No level of mistake will provide a defense for a strict liability offense, so Mrs. Robinson will be convicted of statutory rape.
B is incorrect because no level of assurance or proof would have negated this strict liability crime. Liability for a strict liability offense is simply the act of having committed it, regardless of the reason. C is incorrect for the same reason – no level of assurance or proof will be sufficient or insufficient for a strict liability offense, because it is a factor that will never be relevant. D is incorrect. Mistake of fact can sometimes be a defense to a crime, but only for those with a specific mental state as relevant factor for the crime. With this act alone, the act alone is sufficient for conviction.
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