Two-Minute MBE Question: Criminal Law
Here, we discuss how to approach the following Criminal Law MBE question in two minutes. Read the question below then check out the YouTube video below for an answer explanation in less than two minutes!
Criminal Law Question:
A physician was forced to re-use the same face mask in the hospital due to a mask shortage caused by an unforeseen viral pandemic. The strap that held the mask to her face broke so she decided to repurpose her duct tape and hold her mask to her face using that.
Another doctor also had the same issue with the strap on the back of her mask breaking and was sick of tying it together repeatedly during the day. She thought that the duct tape solution was very clever and took a roll of it from the physician’s hospital bag while the physician was in a different room. The physician noticed the roll of duct tape was missing and suspected the doctor from taking it but decided not to say anything because she was happy the patients were protected from the virus.
Is the doctor guilty of larceny?
(A) No, because she can raise the defense of necessity.
(B) No, because the physician impliedly consented to the act since she did not say anything.
(C) Yes, because she intentionally permanently deprived the physician of her duct tape.
(D) Yes, unless the court determines she acted with a pure motive.
Criminal Law Video Answer Explanation:
Looking for the written answer explanation?
You can find the answer to the MBE question in the video above or the text below. Just click “SHOW ANSWER”
(C) is the correct answer. Larceny is the trespassory taking and carrying away of personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive them thereof. Here, the doctor is guilty of larceny because she intentionally took and carried away the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive them thereof. Her motive is immaterial in this case and, as explained below, no defense she raises will be successful.
(A) is incorrect. If the defendant reasonably believes his or her criminal conduct is necessary to prevent a greater harm, necessity is a defense. Here, the doctor may argue that taking the duct tape was necessary to save patients’ lives but the facts do not state that it was the only available solution left to the doctor. Indeed, she could have continued to re-tie the back of the mask together. Further, the doctor could have simply asked the physician if the doctor could use her tape, thereby accomplishing the same objective without resorting to criminal conduct. Thus, necessity will not succeed as a defense.
(B) is incorrect. If the physician had impliedly consented to the taking of the tape, then the prima facie case for larceny would not be met as the taking would not be considered trespassory. However, in this case, the taking was trespassory. In order to negate that element, the doctor would have had to ask the physician to borrow her tape prior to taking it from her hospital bag. Here, the doctor did not ask. Just because the physician decided not to say anything does not mean that consent was given retroactively. All of the elements of larceny are still met in this case.
(D) is incorrect. A pure motive is not a defense to committing a crime. The elements of larceny are met, as explained above. Unless the doctor can raise a legal defense (which she cannot), the doctor is guilty of larceny.
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