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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2023-24

GOVT 86.48 Criminal Law

This course will examine the American system of criminal law from the philosophical origins and justifications of crime and punishment to the specific elements that make up criminal statutes in the US. We will examine the ways in which statutes lay down general rules of law, which are leave ambiguities and uncertainties to be interpreted in court opinions. We will look at differences in how crimes are defined and punished across state systems, and discuss tensions created by the law and its underlying justifications. We will work on developing sound arguments from competing perspectives around an issue.

We will also focus on skills of practical application. Reading court cases, identifying the key facts  and then summarizing them in a useful way can be difficult and a time-consuming skill to learn, but will be valuable regardless of what profession you ultimately choose to pursue. Analyzing legal cases and participating in discussion will require you to pay careful attention to a wide range of facts, carefully consider alternatives, and thoughtfully express your perspectives. Finally, we will begin the process of learning how attorneys analyze, differentiate, and argue cases based on the needs of their clients.



The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.