Criminal Law Syllabus for Legal Studies and Paralegal Students

This is a model syllabus for a Criminal Law course for undergraduate legal studies or paralegal students. 

  1. Introduction to Criminal Law
    1. Differences between criminal and civil law
    2. Purposes of criminal law - origins of the United States Criminal Justice System
           CALI Lesson: Punishment: Theories (CRIM11)
    3. Sources of Criminal Law
           CALI Lesson: Sources of Criminal Law (CRIM14)
      1. The common law
      2. Statutory law
      3. Relationship between criminal law and the Constitution
  2. Essential elements of a crime
    1. Mens Rea
      1. Definition under the common law
      2. Strict liability
      3. Proving mens rea
             CALI Lesson: The Mens Rea of Knowledge (CRIM07)
             CALI Lesson: The Mens Rea of Purpose (CRIM04)
      4. Motive distinguished from mens rea
             CALI Lesson: Minimum Culpability Requirements Under the Model Penal Code (CRIM22)
             CALI Lesson: The Mens Rea of Negligence (CRIM06)
             CALI Lesson: The Mens Rea of Recklessness (CRIM05)
    2. Actus Reus
           CALI Lesson: Actus Reus (CRIM15)
           CALI Lesson: Accomplice Liability – Actus Reus Requirement (CRIM28)
      1. Voluntariness requirement
      2. Thoughts / statements as ‘act’
      3. Personal status as “act”
      4. Possession as an “act”
      5. Failure to act as an “act”
             CALI Lesson: Omissions (CRIM34)
      6. Causation
             CALI Lesson: Causation (CRIM16)
             CALI Lesson: Concurrence (CRIM26)
  3. Crimes against the Person – Homicide
         CALI Lesson: Introduction to Homicide (CRIM33)
    1. Pre-meditated murder
           CALI Lesson: Homicide (Defining Death and Life) (CRIM40)
           CALI Lesson: Homicide (Murder) (CRIM37)
    2. Classifying murder by "degrees"
           CALI Lesson: Homicide (Murder by Degrees) (CRIM38)
    3. Unlawful killing
    4. Of a human being by another
    5. With malice aforethought
    6. With deliberation, specific purpose or premeditation
           CALI Lesson: Homicide (Causation) (CRIM42)
           CALI Lesson: Homicide (Causation – Part II) (CRIM44)
    7. Motive
    8. Corpus delicti
    9. Felony-Murder Doctrine
           CALI Lesson: Homicide (Felony Murder) (CRIM41)
    10. Second Degree Murder or "Malice Murder"
    11. Manslaughter
      1. Voluntary Manslaughter
             CALI Lesson: Homicide (Unlawful Act Manslaughter) (CRIM39)
      2. Provocation
      3. How long does it take to "cool off?"
      4. Provocation by words alone?
    12. Involuntary Manslaughter
           CALI Lesson: Homicide (Involuntary Manslaughter) (CRIM43)
    13. Suicide
    14. "Assisted Suicide" and Dr. Kevorkian
  4. Assault and Related Offenses
    1. Assault fear or apprehension harmful or offensive contact
    2. Simple Battery unlawful vs. lawful touching harmful or offensive touching using objects to touch
    3. Aggravated Assault or Aggravated Battery
    4. Deadly weapons
    5. Special victims
    6. Domestic Violence
    7. Child Abuse
    8. Elder Abuse
    9. Mayhem
  5. Kidnapping.
    1. Unlawful taking and confinement
    2. Asportation, by use of force, threat, fraud or deception
    3. Aggravating circumstances in kidnapping
    4. Lawful restraint
    5. False Imprisonment
    6. Lesser-included offenses
    7. Stalking
      1. The elements of stalking
      2. Cyber-Stalking
      3. Hate Crimes
  6. Rape
    1. Gathering evidence in a rape prosecution
    2. Rape under the common law
    3. Psychological impact of the sexual assault
    4. Rape Shield Statutes
    5. Date rape
    6. Date Rape Drugs
    7. Other Sexual Offenses
      1. Statutory rape
      2. Fornication
      3. Adultery
      4. Cohabitation
  7. Sex Crimes (continued)
    1. Sodomy
    2. Indecent exposure
    3. Incest
    4. Voyeurism or "Peeping Tom" statutes
    5. Child Molestation
      1. Enticing a minor for immoral purposes
      2. Internet enticement of children
  8. Crimes Against Public Order, Morality & Health Crimes Against Public Morality.
    1. Prostitution
    2. Crimes against Public Order
    3. Riot
    4. Disturbing the Peace
    5. Terroristic Threats
    6. Crimes against Administration of Justice
    7. Perjury
    8. Tax Crimes
    9. Contempt
    10. Crimes against Environment
    11. Clean Water Act
    12. Clean Air Act
  9. Crimes against Property/Habitation
    1. Arson
    2. Burglary
    3. Statutory vs. common law definitions
    4. Theft Crimes
    5. Larceny
    6. Embezzlement
    7. Receiving Stolen Property
    8. Robbery
    9. Extortion
    10. Computer Crimes
  10. Principals, Accessories and Attempt
    1. Principles and Accessories
           CALI Lesson: Accomplice Liability- Actus Reus Requirement (CRIM28)
           CALI Lesson: Accomplice Liability- Definitional Issues (CRIM35)
           CALI Lesson: Accomplice Liability- Mens Rea (CRIM36)
      1. Principal in the first degree
      2. Principal in the second degree
      3. Accessory before the fact
      4. Accessory after the fact
      5. Codefendants
    2. Conspiracy 
      1. The Elements of a Conspiracy
      2. The Agreement
      3. Working together to carry out an illegal act
      4. The 'Overt Act'
  11. Solicitation
    1. Comparing Solicitation to Conspiracy
    2. Attempt
      1. Substantial step
      2. Prosecuting a Charge of Attempt
             CALI Lesson: The Mens Rea of Attempts (CRIM27)
      3. Defending a Charge of Attempt
             CALI Lesson: Attempts III: Defenses (CRIM31)
  12. Rights Associated with the Trial
    1. The 6th Amendment right to an attorney
    2. The 6th amendment right to trial by jury
           CALI Lesson: Right to Trial by Jury- Criminal Prosecution, Size, and Unanimity (CRMPRO27)
      1. The Right to a Public Trial
      2. Non-Unanimous Verdicts in Jury Trials
    3. Other rights guaranteed as part of trial
           CALI Lesson: Constitutional Limitations: 8th Amendment (CRIM08)
           CALI Lesson: Constitutional Limitations: Legality (CRIM09)
      1. Confrontation
             CALI Lesson: Confrontation of Hearsay Declarants (CRMPRO11)
      2. Right of Cross-examination
      3. Defendant Has the Right to be Present at the Trial
      4. Putting the Defendant on Trial in Prison Clothes
      5. Inferences and Presumptions
      6. Prosecutor Cannot Comment on the Defendant's Silence
      7. State Must Prove the Defendant is Guilty beyond a Reasonable Doubt
             CALI Lesson: Presumption of Innocence (Burden of Proof and Presumptions) (CRIM10)
      8. The Right to a Speedy Trial
      9. Right to present evidence and witnesses
             CALI Lesson: Right to Counsel at Trial (Introduction) (CRMPRO28)
  13. The Trial
    1. Courtroom Layout
    2. Beginning the trial
           CALI Lesson: Pre-indictment & Charge (CRIM01)
           CALI Lesson: Plea & Discovery (CRIM02)
      1. Voir Dire or Jury Selection
      2. Jury Selection
      3. Peremptory Challenges
      4. The Batson Case
      5. Challenge for Cause
      6. Preliminary Instructions to the Jury
      7. Jury Sequestration
      8. Opening Statements
    3. Case-in-Chief
      1. Direct Examination
      2. Cross-examination
      3. Re-direct Examination
      4. Resting the State's Case
      5. Motion for directed Verdict
      6. Defense Case-in-Chief
      7. Resting the Defense Case
      8. Rebuttal
      9. Closing the evidence
      10. Charge conference
      11. Closing Arguments
      12. Jury Instructions
      13. Jury Deliberations
      14. Mistrial
      15. Verdict
             CALI Lesson: Sentencing and Punishment (Non-capital) (CRMPRO16)

  14. Defenses
      1. Presumption of innocence
             CALI Lesson: Presumption of Innocence (Burden of Proof and Presumptions) (CRIM10)
      2. State's Burden of Proof
             CALI Lesson: Presumption of Innocence (Burden of Proof and Presumptions) (CRIM10)
             CALI Lesson: Ambiguous Culpability Requirements (CRIM23)
      3. Guilty, but not proven
      4. Affirmative Defenses
             CALI Lesson: Consent (CRIM32)
             CALI Lesson: Battered Woman’s Syndrome (CRIM19)
             CALI Lesson: Defense of Others (CRIM21)
             CALI Lesson: Justification Defenses: Excuse Defenses Distinguished (CRIM18)
      5. The Jury’s function
      6. Notice requirements
      7. The Prosecution's responsibility to rebut Affirmative defense
      8. Specific Affirmative Defenses
      9. Alibi
      10. Self-defense
             CALI Lesson: Self-Defense (CRIM17)
        1. Use of deadly force
        2. What constitutes deadly force?
        3. Limitations on self defense: No self-defense claim for aggressor
               CALI Lesson: Duty to Retreat (CRIM20)
      11. The state’s burden when self-defense is raised
        1. How the jury evaluates the defendant’s actions
        2. Victim’s reputation for violence
        3. Defendants with special abilities: black belts, etc. 
        4. Mutual Combat
        5. Duress, Necessity, Compulsion and Coercio
      12. Other Defenses: Mistake
             CALI Lesson: Excuses I: Duress, Entrapment, Mistake (CRIM12)
             CALI Lesson: Mistake as to the Law Defining the Offense (CRIM25)
             CALI Lesson: Mistake Under the Model Penal Code: Mistake as to Defenses (CRIM30)
             CALI Lesson: Mistake Under the Model Penal Code: Mistake as to Elements of Offenses (CRIM24)
      13. Other Defenses: Age
      14. Other Defenses: Entrapment
             CALI Lesson: Excuses I: Duress, Entrapment, Mistake (CRIM12)
  15. The Insanity Defense.
    1. Misconceptions about the Insanity Defense
    2. How insanity affects the mens rea analysis
           CALI Lesson: Excuses II: Insanity and Infancy (CRIM13)
    3. History of the Insanity Defense
    4. M'Naghten Test
    5. The Modern Definition of Insanity
    6. Insanity at the time of the crime vs. insanity at time of trial
    7. New Approaches to the Insanity Defense
    8. The Procedure Used to Raise the Defense of Insanity
    9. Disposition of the criminally insane
    10. Other Insanity Defenses: Diminished Capacity
  16. Constitutional and Statutory Defense
    1. Equal protection
    2. Due Process
           CALI Lesson: Identifications in Criminal Cases: Law and Practice (CRMPRO14)
           CALI Lesson: Miranda I: Custody, Interrogation and Waiver (CRMPRO18)
           CALI Lesson: Miranda II: Assertion of the Rights, Exceptions, and Other Limits (CRMPRO25)
           CALI Lesson: Other Constitutional Limits to Interrogation (CRMPRO21)
           CALI Lesson: The Exclusionary Rule (CRMPRO17)
           CALI Lesson: The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine (CRMPRO26)
    3. Double Jeopardy
           CALI Lesson: Double Jeopardy (CRMPRO15)
    4. When Double Jeopardy attaches
    5. Double Jeopardy and Cases on Appeal
    6. Vagueness & Overbreadth
    7. Bills of Attainder and Ex Post Facto Laws
    8. Ex Post Facto
    9. Other Constitutional Defenses: First Amendment
    10. Statute of Limitations
    11. "Tolling" the statute
    12. State defenses in addition to U.S. Constitutional defenses