Criminal Law Research Paper

An interesting case that was currently brought before the Supreme Court was Missouri vs. Frye. I found this case interesting due to the injustice that was provided by Frye’s counsel, and that Frye insisted on committing the same crime over and over again even though he knew he had an open case concerning driving under a suspended license. There were many sources and jurisdictions related to criminal law that also relates to this case.

Criminal liability is when one takes responsibility for committing a crime, and accomplice liability is when someone helps someone commit a crime. Actus reus means guilty act, mens rea means guilty mind, and concurrence means the equality of rights. Actus reus and mens rea are both necessary in order for a defendant to prove criminal liability. The Missouri vs. Frye case was about a man named Frye who had been arrested for driving on a revoked license.

Frye was arrested two times before this arrest for driving on a revoked license. In the state of Missouri is someone is arrested three times for driving on a suspended they can receive a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison. After being arrested for this the prosecution had sent Frye’s lawyers a letter without two different pleas arrangements. The plea agreement included a chance for Frye to plead guilty. If he would have pleaded guilty the charge would be dropped to a misdemeanor and would only be sentenced to 90 days in prison. Frye’s counsel never made him aware of the plea offers and eventually the plea offers expired.

A couple weeks later Frye was arrested again for the same thing, plead guilty with no plea agreement, and received three years in prison. When Frye was attempting post conviction relief he argued that his counsel was ineffective because they never made him aware of the plea offers that were presented by the prosecution before the last arrest.

His motion was first denied by the courts, but was than overturned by the Missouri Appellate Court. The Appellate Court proved that Frye’s six amendment right was violated, and that due to Frye having to plead guilty to a felony instead of a misdemeanor that it formed a prejudice (Supreme Court Justice, 2012). What interested me about this case is the injustice brought to Frye, but also that Frye continued to commit the same act multiple times and that even after being informed that the maximum sentence for committing this crime allotted up four years in prison.

I have never heard a case in which a defense attorney never relayed the prosecution’s plea offers, and allowed their client’s offers to expire without ever notifying them. I was also shocked that Frye’s first motion to show the injustice was denied by the court, and had to be taken in front of an appellate court in order to determine that his counsel was ineffective in obtaining the best possible sentence for Frye.

The sixth amendment includes the right to effective counsel and stretches to include the consideration of pleas offers that lapse or are rejected. When the Missouri appellate Court reviewed this particular case they looked stated that guidelines were set into place concerning standards regarding prompt communication and consultation. Due to some criminal cases such as case called Santobello v. New York, which resulted in denying defendants to know about particular plea agreements that a judge wouldn’t accept. Missouri is a state that gives the courts a right to decide whether or not they will accept a plea offered by the prosecution (Supreme Court Justice, 2012).

Accomplice liability is someone who helps in, or in some states merely encourages, the commission of a crime (“Accomplice Liability,” 2004) and criminal liability is when someone takes legal responsibility for the criminal act they committed (“Criminal Liability,” 2012). Accomplice liability does not relate to this case in any type of way, but criminal liability does. This case relates to criminal liability because Frye took responsibility for committing the act of driving under a suspended license. The issue was not because he was trying to get off from being punished, the issue was that he was not given the pleas by his defense attorney, therefore causing him to miss out on receiving the best plea he could.

Actus reus is the Latin word for guilty act (“actus reus”, 2012) , mens rea is the Latin word for guilty mind (“mens rea,” 2012), and concurrence is a word originating from French law that means the equality of rights, or privilege which several persons have over the same thing. The difference between these elements of crime is that actus reus is when someone commits a wrongful act that can be constituted as a crime and mens rea is when someone is aware that the act they are committing is considered to be criminal. Mens rea is the mental aspect of a crime, and actus reus is the physical act itself. Concurrence is the element of crime in which someone needs to prove that a crime was committed.

There are two forms of concurrence. One type is temporal concurrence which means that the actus reus and the mens rea occurred at the same time, and the other is motivational occurrence which says that the mens rea motivates the actus reus (Whalen, 2012). These elements of crime relates to this case in the sense that Frye committed the same crime multiple times and that even though he the plea agreements were not brought to Frye, he was aware that every time he drove a vehicle ( mens rea) that he was committing a criminal act of driving under a suspended license (actus reus).


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Actus reus . (2012). In The Free Dictionary. Retrieved from http://legal-

Criminal Liability. (2012). In The Free Dictionary. Retrieved from http://legal

Mens rea. (2012). In The Free Dictionary. Retrieved from

Supreme Court Justice. (2012). Missouri v. Frye. Retrieved from

Whalen, W. (2012). Criminal Liability. Retrieved from