The alternate portion of the course will treat procedural criminal law, which deals with such matters as investigations and police practices, and disposition of the defendant in pretrial and trial processes. We will deal primarily with police investigation and interrogation practices, focusing on entrapment, search and seizure law, and the interrogation of suspects.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the substantive and procedural aspects of criminal law through the study of key cases and concepts. Substantive criminal law entails such matters as: the basic ends and purposes of the criminal sanction (theories of crime, punishment, responsibility, and the processes of the criminal justice system); specific crimes (e.g., homicide, sexual assault, attempts, conspiracy, and the like); the basic elements of criminal culpability (mens rea, actus reus, causation, corpus delicti); criminal defenses (e.g., self-defense, duress, insanity, diminished capacity, justification, necessity, excuse, consent, mistake of fact or law, etc.); and the basic legal concepts or standards regarding evidence and proof of guilt (e.g., guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, presumptions or inferences of fact, admissibility of evidence). Overall, substantive criminal law concerns the matter of society’s holding individuals accountable or blameworthy for their illegal actions, and the norms and standards that govern this accounting. Because this assessment involves often delicate judgments of a factual and moral nature, it is one of the most interesting and controversial activities in the social order. It can make for high drama, or, at least, a highly interesting and challenging class. In dealing with substantive criminal law, we will also address the underlying and operative principles of criminal law and justice in the context of the constitutional and democratic order. We will see how different philosophical and theoretical perspectives influence where one draws the line between culpability and non- culpability. This approach will help us to understand the actual law in operation, and help us to critically evaluate the operation of criminal law in America.