Advanced Criminal Law MY Outline: Void for Vagueness

Territorial Jurisdiction:

–A. Common law: a crime can only be charged in a jurisdiction if the essential/key/vital or gravamen of the offense takes place in the jurisdiction. The case may only be prosecuted in the jurisdiction where the key element of the crime was prosecuted.

–B. Alternate rule: a crime may be charged in the jurisdiction if any element of the crime occurred within the jurisdiction. Maryland has not adopted such a statute.

Ex Post Facto: (See Raines)

Is a law that applies retrospectively with a negative effect upon a person’s rigths by criminalizing a previous action or behavior.


  1. Statute/law Must be retrospective,


  1. It must disadvantage the party.

Ex. It turns prior innocent behavior into a crime, makes a crime greater than what it originally was, affects the laws of evidence

Analysis framework:

  1. Was the legislative intent punitive? If yes, inquiry ends = Impermissible Ex Post Facto law.
  2. If no, and th elaw was regulatory, civil, and nonpunitative = OK, not Ex Post Facto law

U.S. Sup CT. (Mendoza).

Mendoza Factors to consider:

  1. Can the new law be considered historical punishment?
  2. Does the law impose affirmative disability or restraint?
  3. Does the law promote traditional aims of punishment, retribution & deterrence?
  4. Whether an alternative purpose to which the law may rationally be connected is assignable for it,and
    1. Whether it appears excessive in relation to the alternative purpose assigned.


  • Void for Vagueness:
  • Requires that penal statutes be sufficiently explicit to inform those who are subject to it what conduct on their part will render them liable to penalties.
    • Test:
    • The fair notice principle requires that a person of ordinary intelligence and experience be afforded a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited.

    –The meaning of the words in controversy must be fairly ascertained by common understanding, reference to judicial determinations, the common law, or dictionaries.

    • The enforcement prong requires that the statute does not foster arbitrary enforcement.

    –The statute must not be so broad that it becomes susceptible to irrational and selective patterns of enforcement.