Criminal Law Example

Facts: In the early morning hours of September 23, 1981 in the state of Georgia a log cabin had caught on fire by a hot plate. An investigation determined it was a result of Arson. An accelerant was used in conjunction with a hotplate causing the fire. The investigation also showed the owner of the residence had purchase a $40,000 insurance policy on the log cabin five days prior to the incident. The owner of the property was Henry X. Kennedy and the police had him as the number one suspect. Mr. Kennedy’s alibi was too weak to exclude him from suspicion.

a.) Appellant pleaded not guilty to first degree arson on grounds of his alibi.

b.) Appellant also used verbiage as a defense on several occasions, I.E. the phase “scene of the crime” or “scene of the offense”. The appellant states the scene is not a crime and it shouldn’t be described as so until the jury determines it.

Decisions: Mr. Kennedy believed he was not allowed to provide his defense for his alibi from the court. He claimed he was not present during the time of the alleged crime. The prosecution proved stated that Mr. Kennedy had conspired to start the fire when he was not present by adding an accelerant to all rooms and around the hotplate. The prosecution also proved that accerelants around the hotplate suggested that it was an attempt of arson instead of an accident.

Mr. Kennedy claimed error of the prosecution regarding his defense of the fire being an accident. The prosecutions use of the phrase “scene of the crime” or “scene of the offense” was the wrong verbiage according to Mr. Kennedy. The court found there was nothing wrong with the wording.

Reasoning: The evidence was stacked against Mr. Kennedy and him having a weak alibi suggested he was the only person to gain from the incident. Having renewed his insurance for the property just days prior was more than a coincidence. Also, having a failing business with two mortgages on the property that burn put most of the evidence in Mr. Kennedy’s area. As for the physical evidence the accelerant (kerosene) was poured on and around the hotplate that was turned on prior to the fire proving that the fire was no accident.

I think the defendant tried to use the system against itself by delaying the process of a trial by jury. He used every little thing to either excuse himself from guilt or get a mistrial. In the end he was convicted of First Degree Arson. The evidence proved that Mr. Kennedy was in need of extra money to help his business. Mr. Kennedy attempted after being convicted to have his case reheard on October of 1984 and it was denied.

Burglary is the forcible entry into a structure with the intent to commit a felony once inside (Davenport, 2012). The Texas Penal Code title 7 chapter 30 defines burglary as “a) A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, the person, with intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault ( (n.d.). The term “intent to commit a felony” is the difference between a person looking for someone and a person looking for things to take with them.

During a trial the prosecution has to prove that the defendant was there with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault. Vehicles, pay phones, vending machines and any other type of property that does not belong to the person who is in possession of it, is considered burglary.

Breaking and entering is defined as entering a residence or other enclosed property through the slightest amount of force (even pushing open a door), without authorization. Entering with the intent to commit a crime is burglary (, n.d.). If intent cannot be proven the breaking and entering alone is probably at least illegal trespass, which is a misdemeanor crime

Home invasion is generally an unauthorized and forceful entry into a dwelling. It is a crime governed by state laws. Texas Penal Code defines criminal trespassing as a person commits an offense if he enters or remains on or in property, including an aircraft or other vehicle, of another without effective consent or he enters or remains in a building of another without effective consent ( (n.d.). In the Texas Penal code criminal trespass is Home invasion. Criminal trespass covers everything under sun in Texas from shacks to forest.

For example, a person decides to move out into the woods of public land, they put up a simple shelter and make their selves a home. That would be a crime because that person does not have permission from the state of Texas to setup homestead on public land. The person does not show any intent of committing a crime just need a place to sleep or call their own. They would not be charged with burglary or breaking and entering because there was no intent to commit a felony. They will probably be charged with simple trespassing.

The definition of larceny was developed to punish the taking of property in nonviolent face-to-face encounters (, n.d.). Petit larceny is a misdemeanor and went from $5 to $200 but grand larceny is a felony and it is anything over $200. Larceny incases several theft offenses, larceny in some states is just theft.

The first is auto theft; it is the most costly property crime in the United States (Davenport, 2012). There are generally two kinds of car thieves, one that steals cars for a conveyance and ones that steal them for profit. In all of these situations the prosecution has to prove that the defendant took the car, did not own the car, and intended to permanently deprive the owner of the use of the car (Davenport, 2012).

Second is Embezzlement and it is the fraudulent conversion of another’s property by a person who is in a position of trust, such as an agent or employee. This happens when someone has legal possession of property of another uses, converts or retains that property for his own use or the use of someone other than the owner (Davenport, 2012).. It differs from other forms of theft because it does not require proof that the perpetrator took and carried away property of another. That’s because the embezzler already lawfully possesses the property, albeit on behalf of the other (Davenport, 2012). A perfect example of embezzlement is the case Bernie Madoff; he convinced rich clients to give large amounts of money to invest in a false venture and never paid them back.

Last but not least, Extortion is the obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right. (, n.d.). There is a difference between extortion and robbery. Robbery is when someone walks up to a person and either uses force or show the intent of using force to take from them. Extortion is when someone approaches another and tells them I have some incriminating picture of you and if you don’t start paying me a certain amount of money I will send them to your wife, your husband, your boss etc. Extortion is common in organized crime.

They call it protection but when a small business owner is forced to pay a thug from a crime family it is extortion not protection. In order to prove charges of extortion, a prosecutor must be able to prove either that an illegal threat was made, or that goods or services were received in exchange for such a threat (Smith, 2012).

ReferencesGeorgia Caselaw. (2004). Browse Caselaw. Browse Caselaw. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from Davenport, A. U. (2012). Basic Criminal Law: The Constitution, Procedure, and Crimes (3rd ed.). Retrieved from (n.d.). Breaking and Entering. Legal Dictionary. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from Texas Penal Code Title 7-30.2

Texas Penal Code Title (n.d.). Texas Penal Code. – Texas Attorney Resources. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from (n.d.). Embezzlement. The Free Dictionary. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from (n.d.). Extortion. The Free Dictionary. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from