The following discussion comes from your Week 2 readings. Outside research to address these issues is required. Use the online library for additional sources of information and research. In addition, I recommend utilizing the Legal Studies Program Guide.
There are two basic elements required for any crime: actus rea and mens rea. A crime must be the result of a voluntary act and it must have the evil intent at the time of the crime. This is established by looking at the state of mind of the offender at the time of the crime.
Defenses to a crime can be justifications or excuses. A justification defense indicates that the act was criminal, but the actor was justified, while defenses of excuse indicate that the act was not a crime due to some extenuating circumstance.
Read the following scenario and and answer its questions:
Maria has been angry with Carlos for a very long time. She had threatened to kill Carlos on a couple of occasions. One day, Maria sees Carlos standing on a street corner waiting to cross the street. There are several people standing around Carlos, also waiting to cross. Maria pulls out a gun and fires at Carlos. The bullet grazes Carlos’s arm, injuring him. However, the same bullet strikes and kills Raquel, who was unknown to Maria.
1) Considering the ideas and concepts covered this week, what crime or crimes has Maria committed? Explain your reasoning, especially with regard to actus rea, mens rea and corpus delicti. What might be some valid defenses that Maria may assert?
2) Now, research the relevant statutes in your state that correspond to the crimes and defenses that you discussed in your answers to Q1. In light of what you see in your state statutes, how might your answers, including about possible defenses, change (if at all)?
3) How did conducting research and going through each step of legal analysis help you to reach this conclusion? Analyze how you applied critical thinking and legal analytical skills to assist you in this regard. What new research and/or analytical tool or method did you try for the first time this week? What do you think you do well and what would you like to strengthen so that you continue to improve?
4) Collaborate with each other as the week goes on to make all aspects of this Discussion as robust as possible.






Analyzing Maria’s Actions and Legal Implications

In the scenario presented, Maria’s actions raise serious legal questions regarding the crimes committed and potential defenses that may apply. To effectively address these issues, it is crucial to delve into the concepts of actus rea, mens rea, and the applicable defenses.

Crimes Committed by Maria:

Actus Rea:

Maria’s act of pulling out a gun and firing at Carlos demonstrates the actus rea element, which refers to the physical act of committing a crime. The act of firing the gun is a voluntary action on Maria’s part.

Mens Rea:

The mens rea element relates to the mental state of the offender at the time of the crime. Maria’s longstanding anger towards Carlos and her previous threats to kill him indicate a malicious intent or mens rea. Her decision to shoot at Carlos underscores her evil intent.

Corpus Delicti:

The corpus delicti, or the body of the crime, involves establishing that a specific harm or injury has occurred as a result of the criminal act. In this case, Raquel’s death directly resulted from Maria’s actions, making her liable for the harm caused.


Considering these elements, Maria could be charged with attempted murder for shooting at Carlos with the intent to harm him. Additionally, she could face charges of manslaughter or even murder for causing Raquel’s death while attempting to harm Carlos.

Valid Defenses for Maria:

Justification Defense:

Maria may attempt to justify her actions by claiming self-defense if she believed she was in immediate danger from Carlos. However, the presence of innocent bystanders like Raquel weakens this defense.

Excuse Defense:

An excuse defense like insanity could be raised if Maria’s mental state at the time of the crime was impaired to the extent that she did not understand the nature of her actions. This defense would require expert evaluation and evidence.

Impact of State Statutes:

Researching relevant statutes in your state is crucial for understanding how specific laws and provisions may impact the assessment of crimes and defenses in this scenario. State laws vary in their definitions of crimes, elements required for conviction, and available defenses. By examining state statutes, one can gain insights into the potential charges Maria might face and the viability of her defenses.

Critical Thinking and Legal Analysis:

Conducting thorough research and applying critical thinking skills are essential in legal analysis. By carefully analyzing the elements of the crime, possible defenses, and relevant statutes, one can arrive at well-informed conclusions regarding legal implications. This process enhances one’s ability to identify key issues, evaluate evidence, and make sound judgments in legal contexts.

Continuous Improvement:

To continue improving in legal analysis, it is essential to engage in collaborative discussions with peers, explore diverse viewpoints, and seek feedback on reasoning and arguments. Strengthening research skills, honing analytical methods, and enhancing critical thinking abilities are key aspects of growth in legal studies.

In conclusion, by delving into the complexities of Maria’s actions, understanding legal principles, and applying critical analysis, one can navigate the intricate legal landscape surrounding criminal offenses and defenses effectively. Conducting in-depth research and engaging in rigorous legal analysis are vital components in reaching well-founded conclusions in legal scenarios.

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