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NCJ Number: 159201 Find in a Library
Title: Lay Perspectives on Legal Conundrums: Impossible and Mistaken Act Cases
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:19  Issue:6  Dated:(December 1995)  Pages:593-607
Author(s): N J Finkel; S T Maloney; M Z Valbuena; J L Groscup
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 15
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Two experiments were conducted to analyze whether criminal responsibility begins with an objective act of harm or with subjective intent to commit harm.
Abstract: The research focused on whether jurors would convict a person on subjective grounds, where the person's intent to murder was clear, even when a manifest criminal act and harmful consequences were absent. The participants were 63 female and 34 male college students. The first experiment focused on impossible acts such as shooting at a tree stump in the belief that it is the human the person wants to murder. Participants read booklets that presented one of five cases involving impossible acts. Results revealed the jurors do convict in impossible-act cases, although their subjective preference moderates and even reverses with certain types of mistakes or when the potential harm but not the actual harm is perceived as high. The second experiment focuses on mistaken act and self-defense cases. Results revealed that objectivity is weighed heavily. Findings indicated that in the absence of legal guidelines, participants address the conundrums of impossible and mistaken acts by using their common sense to shift the balance between objectivity and subjectivity. Tables and 25 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Criminal intent; Criminal responsibility; Criminology; Jury decisionmaking
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