PHILOSOPHY OF LAW
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HAND-OUTS
SPRING 2003



HAND-OUTS


"Factual" Impossibility

John reaches into Henry's pocket, intending to steal his wallet, but his pocket is empty. Should John be convicted of attempted robbery or should he only be admonished to keep his hands to himself?

"Legal" Impossibility

Imagine that two gay Colorado women engage in sexual relations fully believing that sex between gay couples is illegal in the State of Colorado. But State law has nothing against same sex relations between consenting adults. Are they guilty of a criminal attempt?

Impossibility and Reasonable Risk

Suppose a father who lives in New York City wants to kill his five-year-old son. He decides to do so by sending him to summer camp in New Hampshire, not, as he did in past years, by train, but by plane instead. He is under the mistaken belief that planes crash far more frequently than trains do. He hopes such a crash will occur. And indeed it does. The father intended the death of his son and intended him to die in a plane crash which is just the manner in which his son did die and his son would not have died, but for the fact that his father put him on that plane. Is the father guilty of murder? Suppose the plane never crashes, but the police learn of the father's intentions (the father has written a letter to a friend in Flagstaff, Arizona who has turned the letter in to the New York City Police). The father is charged with attempted murder? Should he be convicted?






Prepared: February 4, 2003 - 5:02:29 PM
Edited and Updated, February 5, 2003


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