I have a mid-term in crim law very soon. Crim law is probably my favorite class. I understand everything that we have covered so far except merger doctrine/rule. It would help me out tremendously if someone could explain merger as simply as possible and include an example of when merger does apply and when it doesn't.
Thanks so much!
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Crimes are made up of elements. In general, if the government can prove you did things that meet all the elements of a crime, you're guilty of that crime. One limit on this comes into play when you'd technically be guilty of more than one crime. Let's take murder. If you're guilty of murder, you're also probably guilty of battery. That is, if you've met all the elements of murder, it's hard to not also meet all the elements of battery. They're often similar if not exactly the same, but one offense will have an additional element or two. The people who thought up the rules of the game thought this was problematic because the point of having murder isn't allowing the state to tag the murderer with the penalty he'd get if the guy didn't die in addition to the penalty given for murder. Thus the merger doctrine. It prevents some of these double penalties, but only some of them. For example, most jurisdictions will allow you to be guilty of conspiracy to commit a crime and the crime itself.