Criminal Law

  • This Subject Area Index lists all CALI lessons covering Criminal Law.
  • The Criminal Law Outline allows you to search for terms of art that correspond to topics you are studying to find suggestions for related CALI Lessons.

Criminal Law

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Accomplice Liability - Definitional Issues

At common law, a distinction was made between the perpetrator of a crime, and the perpetrator's accomplices. In this lesson, we examine the common law definitions that applied to accomplices, and modern approaches to complicity, including the Model Penal Code. This lesson is intended for students who have studied these issues in class, and who wish to refine their knowledge and understanding.

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Accomplice Liability - Mens Rea

This lesson continues our discussion of accomplice liability. In a prior lesson, we examined how the common law and the Model Penal Code classified various types of accomplices. In another prior lesson, we examined the actus reus requirement for accomplice liability. In this lesson, we continue the discussion by focusing on the mens rea requirement for accomplice liability. The lesson is intended for students who have studied these issues in class, and who wish to refine their understanding and knowledge of the topic.

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Actus Reus

This exercise provides an introduction to the act requirement. In particular, it addresses the definition of "act," voluntariness, liability for omissions (failures to act), and possession offenses.

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Battered Woman's Syndrome

The focus of this lesson is on battered women, but there are others who might be identified as qualifying for a defense on the same theory. Included could be battered husbands, elderly parents, children, and so forth. Thus, this lesson will explore a number of the issues involved in the invocation of self-defense by such persons and to allow the student to test his or her understanding of how the defense works in such circumstances. The lesson explores when and how the defense can be invoked in various scenarios involving abused persons, and also considers the use of experts and jury instructions.

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Causation

This exercise provides an overview of the concept of causation. Factual cause is distinguished from legal cause, and causation in general from mens rea and attempt. Specific issues covered include simultaneous causes, different victim, different manner, and different injury.

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Concurrence

This is a basic lesson covering the common law doctrine of concurrence. At common law, crimes required not only an actus reus and a mens rea but concurrence of the two.

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Consent

This lesson explores the various ways in which the criminal law considers victim consent. Topics include consent as negating an offense element, consent as justification, effective consent, and limitations on consent as a defense.

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Constitutional Limitations: 8th Amendment

This exercise provides a general overview of the Eighth Amendment as it applies to substantive criminal law. It outlines the Amendment's potential scope as well as its actual reach, as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court. Procedural criminal law (and the Court's capital punishment jurisprudence in particular) is ignored, except insofar as it bears on substantive criminal law or helps to define the Amendment's scope.

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Constitutional Limitations: Legality

In this exercise, students get an overview of the principle of legality. Legality is divided into four subtopics: legislativity, retroactivity, vagueness, and lenity, which are addressed in turn. Particular attention is paid to the following issues: constitutional foundations; applicability to the states; applicability to the making or the interpretation of criminal laws, and to the legislature or the judiciary; applicability to criminal and civil law, and to substantive and procedural criminal law in particular.

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Defense of Others

This lesson covers the subject of defense of others. In many respects an actor's right to defend another parallels his or her right to defend himself or herself. However, there are some specific exceptions and nuances that must be understood. It is the purpose of this lesson to cover those specifics and nuances in the context of some classic scenarios.

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