Criminal Procedure is some of the most complex, but highly interesting material we learn in law school. For me, the interplay between principled Constitutional protections and practical criminal justice, and the conflicts that result, are some of the greatest instances of jurisprudence. You may not agree, but either way you’ll have to know the basics to survive the Criminal Procedure portion of the bar exam. To that end, here’s some MBE Criminal Procedure questions to study!
Disclaimer – these are not actual MBE Criminal Procedure 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 Procedure Question 1:
Retired CIA Agent Liam Neeson, after a heated argument with his neighbor, decided to teach him a lesson. He broke into his home late at night with a firearm, intending to steal his prized vase. When the neighbor heard sounds and came downstairs to investigate, Liam Neeson shot and killed him. He was charged with one count of felony murder and a second count of burglary. The jury found Liam Neeson guilty on the first count of felony murder, but found him not guilty on the second count.
If Liam Neeson files a motion to set aside the felony murder guilty verdict, it will likely be:
A) Denied, because any issues do not rise to the level of a reversible error.
B) Denied, because Liam Neeson should pursue appellate review at this point.
C) Granted, because the verdicts are not legally consistent.
D) Granted, because the verdict rises to the level of a reversible error.
Criminal Procedure Question 2:
Police officers believed that Joe McMillan, an IBM sales executive, was secretly part of a large cocaine distribution operation, and had recently been involved in a stabbing related to those activities. Police officer’s went to his uncle’s house to search for the knife. The Uncle said that he owned the house, and was the only person with a key to get in, but that Joe had been using a spare room for a month or two. The uncle gave the police permission to search the home, and they found a knife in the spare room. The uncle said that he allowed all of his nieces and nephews to use the room as they wished when they were in town, which was frequent. Joe wishes to assert his Fourth Amendment rights with regard to the search that found the knife.
Did the police act properly when searching the bedroom?
A) Yes, because the house belonged to the uncle.
B) Yes, because the uncle’s nieces and nephews used the room.
C) No, unless the police had a valid warrant.
D) No, because Joe has a reasonable expectation of privacy in that room.
Criminal Procedure Question 3:
Conan the Barbarian confessed to a vicious sword-related murder to an informant, and police brought him in for questioning. He was read his Miranda rights, and from the videotape in the interview room he appeared to understand his Miranda rights. After seven hours of questioning the police gave Conan a Miranda waiver. He signed it, and proceeded to confess to his part in the sword-related killing. Conan now argues that this confession is invalid, both because he was under the influence of cocaine at the time of the confession and because it lasted for seven hours. The confession is:
A) Lawful, because Conan had already confessed to the informant prior to the questionable confession.
B) Lawful, because Conan appeared to understand his Miranda rights before signing the waiver.
C) Unlawful, because Conan was under the influence of cocaine at the time of the confession.
D) Unlawful, because the excessive length of the questioning.
Answer Question 1: C
This is one of those “deceptively simple” questions that can sometimes trick our minds into over analysis. A felony murder verdict requires a guilty verdict of the felony itself. It is a prerequisite to a felony murder verdict. Because of this, it would be appropriate for the verdict to be set aside as legally inconsistent.
Answer Question 2: B
Here were taking a look at 4th Amendment rights, and how they relate to the concept of a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” A lot goes into an analysis of a reasonable expectation of privacy. Here the fact that the home was owned by the uncle and not Joe, and the fact that the Uncle allowed multiple people to share the room, all point towards Joe not having a reasonable expectation of privacy in the space, making answer B correct.
A is incorrect because, even when someone owns a home and consents to a search, that won’t defeat 4th Amendment protections alone, as someone can reasonably expect privacy in their own private space if they have one. C is incorrect because a search without a warrant is allowed if consent is given by someone with (or appearing to have) authority. D is incorrect because, considering that the room is open for multiple people to use at any time, Joe did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the space.
Answer Question 3: B
Here were looking over the limits of Miranda warnings, and what types of activity may rise to the level of coercion. Conan’s questioning for seven hours, while long, would not rise to the level of coercion or police abuse that would make the confession inadmissible. Similarly, even if Conan was under the influence of cocaine, unless he displayed behavior indicating he was under the influence of something, and because outwardly he appeared to have a full understanding of his rights, the confession would stand.
A is incorrect because his confession to an informant would not factor into the admissibility of a police confession, particularly if it had been gained by abuse or coercion. C is incorrect because, even if truly under the influence of cocaine, Conan’s behavior gave no indication of this to the officers. D is incorrect because, while long, seven hours of questioning alone would not rise to the level of coercion or abuse.
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