Criminal Law: An Introduction

Criminal Law serves many purposes and aides in maintaining today’s society and norms as we know it. According to sociologist Max Weber, the purpose of criminal law is to regulate human interaction (Criminal Law Today). According to text, criminal law protects society from harm, assuage victims of crime, punish and rehabilitate offenders, preserve and maintains social order, deters criminal activity, distinguishes the difference between criminal and civil wrongs, stipulates the degree of seriousness of criminal conduct, and establishes criteria for the clear determination of guilt or innocence at trial (Criminal Law Today).

In this paper, I will discuss a recent Supreme Court case, address accomplice liability and criminal liability and how it relates to the case. This paper will also describe the difference between the various elements of crime, including actus reus, mens rea, and concurrence and how they relate to the case. In the United States, while the labels of a crime may differ, they all share the element of crime and define criminal conduct (Criminal Law Today). In order to convict a defendant of a particular crime, the prosecutor must first prove that all statutory elements of the crime is present, and a defendant can be found not guilty if even one element is lacking. (Criminal Law Today).

There are three aspects of all crimes. They are actus reus, or a criminal act, mens rea, or a criminal thought/ mental state, and a concurrence of both (Criminal Law Today). Some suggest that causation, or resulting harm is the fourth element of crime (Criminal Law Today). If there is a case where all elements of crime cannot be proven, criminal liability will not be demonstrated. However, if mens rea is not present, an offense may be classified as strict liability if a harmful act is committed, regardless if intent was there or proven (Criminal Law Today).

The Supreme Court case that I will be discussing is NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS et al. v. SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. In 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in order to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care (Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius 567 U. S). According to a key provision made in this act, “minimum essential” healthcare coverage is mandatory for most Americans with applicable exceptions.

(Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius 567 U. S). Beginning in 2014, individuals must make a payment to the Federal Government or IRS and will have tax penalties if they are not exempt, don’t receive health insurance through their employer, or have not gone through a private company to obtain health insurance (Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius 567 U. S). Through this Act, Medicaid was also expanded, increasing the number of covered individuals. Through this Act, state programs are to provide Medicaid coverage by 2014 to adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, many States only cover adults with children only if their income is considerably lower, and do not cover childless adults at all (Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius 567 U. S).

This Act also increased state funding in order to expand Medicaid funding, however, if a state does not comply with these requirements, they will lose requirement funding and federal Medicaid funds (Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius 567 U. S). The National Federation of Independent Business, 26 different states, and several individuals challenged the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion, resulting in the Court of Appeals of the 11th Circuit concluding that Congress lacked authority to enact the individual mandate, finding the mandate severable from the Act’s other provisions (Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius 567 U. S).

I chose this this case because of all the controversy that arose at the passing of this Act. I also 1 / 2 chose this case because though it has a few negatives, such as paying taxes or benefits being removed from a state, it provides opportunity for individuals less fortunate, etc. to have health insurance by making it more affordable for all individuals, which I feel is a necessity. Accomplice liability, or someone assisting in the commission of a crime is not present in this case.

Actus reus, mens rea, and concurrence is also absent from this case but could be present if an individual doesn’t comply with the Act or has no intentions of obtaining health insurance. References Criminal Law Today, Fifth Edition. Chapter 2: Criminal Liability and the Essence of Crime. Frank Schmalleger, Ph. D. , Daniel E. HallJ. D. , Ed. D. Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius 567 U. S. ___ (2012). " Justia Law. Web. 8 Oct. 2015. 15 Supreme Court cases that changed America – CNN. com. (n. d. ). Retrieved October 8,2015 POWERED BY TCPDF (WWW. TCPDF. ORG).