CRIM 3100: Criminal Law

CRIM 3100: Criminal Law Instructor Info: Instructor: Steven N. Zane, J.D., M.A. Phone: 617-595-5720 Email: [email protected] Office Hours: T/F ...
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CRIM 3100: Criminal Law Instructor Info: Instructor: Steven N. Zane, J.D., M.A. Phone: 617-595-5720

Email: [email protected] Office Hours: T/F 11:30am – 12:30pm, or by appointment Course Info:

Academic Term: Fall 2016 Credit Hours: 4

Course Schedule: T/F 09:50 – 11:30am Course Location: Snell Library 119

Course Description: Discusses the definition of common crimes and criminal responsibility. Addresses moral, philosophical, constitutional, and public policy considerations in the use of criminal sanctions to regulate conduct. Requires the knowledge of particular criminal law concepts and the ability to identify them in complex fact patterns and discuss their implications and ramifications. Also requires the application of legal principles to fact situations in a logical way. Case briefing is required. Course Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or above or permission of instructor. Required Textbooks: Joel Samaha. 2015. Criminal Law (12th ed.) Cengage. ISBN-13: 9781305577381. Recommended Supplemental Textbooks: Joshua Dressler. 2012. Understanding Criminal Law (6th ed.). Lexis-Nexis. ISBN-10: 0769848931. Course Objectives: This course is designed to provide students with: (1) An understanding of substantive criminal law (2) An understanding of the impact substantive criminal law has on their lives, both as citizens and as future criminal justice professionals (3) An understanding of the elements of criminal liability, and how those elements manifest themselves in specific crimes (4) The ability to apply legal principles to factual situations Learning Outcomes: The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice prepares students for professional and research careers in criminal justice, criminology and related fields by applying multidisciplinary and comparative social science to understand, predict and explain crime and contribute to the development of public policy within urban communities. Using an active learning approach, the School seeks to develop its students intellectually and ethically, while providing them with a keen appreciation for the complexities of crime, and public and private


efforts to make communities safer and ensure justice. A strong understanding of criminal law is essential to a full understanding of the criminal justice system. By the conclusion of this course, the successful student will be able to: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

Describe the essential elements of law Distinguish between law and morality Distinguish between criminal and civil law Describe the way statutory law and case law are created Describe when criminal liability attaches to a person Explain the constitutional limitations on the ability of the legislature to impose any sentence it wishes on a convicted criminal (7) Describe the elements of various “crimes against the person,” such as murder, manslaughter, rape, and robbery; “crimes against property,” such as burglary, larceny, and arson; and “public order crimes,” such as vagrancy and prostitution (8) Outline the elements of legal defenses, such as self-defense, mistake, necessity and entrapment, that may be successfully raised, and describe the manner in which they operate (9) Apply the legal principles learned to factual situations Course Map:

Foundations of U.S. Criminal Law

Elements of Criminal Liability

SpeciDic Crimes

Defenses to Crimes

• How is criminal law created? • Why do we punish law-breakers? • Constitutional limitations

• Actus reus • Mens rea • Causation • Harm

• Crimes against person • Crimes against property • Public order crimes • Crimes against State • Inchoate crimes

• JustiDications • Excuses


Course Calendar: Week Week 1

Dates September 9

Topic Introduction

Reading Chapter 1

Week 2

September 13

Constitutional Limitations

Chapter 2

Week 3

September 16 September 20

Criminal Liability: Actus Reus

Chapter 3

Week 4

September 23 September 27

Criminal Liability: Mens Rea

Chapter 4

Week 5

September 30 October 4

Causation Defenses: Justifications

Chapter 5

Week 6

October 7 October 11

Week 7

October 14 October 18


Week 8

October 21 October 25

Homicide Homicide

Chapter 9 Chapter 9

October 28

Crimes against Person

Chapter 10

November 1

Crimes against Person

Chapter 10

November 4

Crimes against Property

Chapter 11

Week 10

November 8

Crimes against Property

Chapter 11

Week 11

November 11 November 15

No class Crimes against Public Order No class

Chapter 12

Week 12

November 18 November 22

Crimes against State

Chapter 13

Week 13

November 25 November 29

No class Parties to Crime

Chapter 7

Week 14

December 2 December 6

Inchoate Crimes

Chapter 8

Week 9

Defenses: Excuses

Chapter 6


Attendance Policy: Attendance is mandatory. A pattern of unexcused absences will result in the lowering of the final course grade up to a full letter grade. Frequently entering class late will also negatively impact your final grade. Absence on a day of an exam will result in a zero for that exam. Assignments: Case Briefing (40%): Every student will be assigned to a Blackboard group that will brief cases on a weekly basis. Students will be expected to present his/her case to the class. Half-credit will be given for (1) late posts, or (2) student absence on the day of presentation. Court visit and reflection paper (15%): Each student will visit the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to witness an actual criminal appeal. Students will write a short (3–4 pages) reflection paper discussing the case details as well as the experience. A more detailed rubric for the paper will be provided in class, along with a list of possible dates and cases. Midterm examination (15%): The midterm examination covers chapters 1-6 in the textbook and will be given on Tuesday, October 18. The exam is closed book, closed note, and consists of multiple choice and short answer questions. Final examination (30%): A comprehensive closed book, closed note final exam will be scheduled during the Final exam period during the week of December 9–16. The exam will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions. This exam will be cumulative: it covers ALL the assigned readings and class discussions. The final exam schedule is announced by the University well in advance of finals. Do not purchase airplane tickets, etc. until you know the date of your final exams including this course. If you find that you have a scheduling conflict between the final for this course and another course, it is your responsibility to complete and submit the final exam conflict form available through the Registrar’s Office online at URL: Grading and Evaluation: Final course grades will be determined as follows: Assignment

Case Briefing/Presentation

Percent of final grade 40%

Reflection Paper Midterm Examination

15% 15%

Final Examination



Grading Scale: Final grade A (4.000) A- (3.667) B+ (3.333) B (3.000) B- (2.667) C+ (2.333) C (2.000) C- (1.667) D+ (1.333) D (1.000) D- (0.667) F (0.000)

Percentile 100 – 95 94.9 – 90 89.9 – 87 86.9 – 83 82.9 – 80 79.9 – 77 76.9 – 73 72.9 – 70 69.9 – 67 66.9 – 63 62.9 – 60 59.9 – below