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LSTD204 - Introduction to the Courts

Course Details

Course Code: LSTD204 Course ID: 2531 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

This course is an introduction to the structure of the American court system. Topics include prosecution, right to counsel, pretrial release, grand jury process, and sentencing concepts. The course will assess the U.S Courts System and how it relates to the criminal justice system in America. Students will become familiar with the chronological events from the arrest process to sentencing and appeals. Students will be able to explain concepts of stop and frisk arrest, searches under warrant, and presentation of the case to the magistrate. Assessments of the criminal trial process and phases of pretrial and trial proceedings will be examined.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
05/21/21 - 10/29/21 11/01/21 - 12/26/21 Fall 2021 Session I 8 Week session
06/28/21 - 12/03/21 12/06/21 - 01/30/22 Fall 2021 Session D 8 Week session
07/27/21 - 12/31/21 01/03/22 - 02/27/22 Winter 2022 Session B 8 Week session
08/31/21 - 02/04/22 02/07/22 - 04/03/22 Winter 2022 Session I 8 Week session
09/28/21 - 03/04/22 03/07/22 - 05/01/22 Winter 2022 Session D 8 Week session
10/26/21 - 04/01/22 04/04/22 - 05/29/22 Spring 2022 Session B 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to demonstrate and explain the following learning objectives:

  • Identify historical events and figures that have contributed to the present-day court system in America.
  • Identify the various types of courts.
  • Understand jurisidction and the basics of filing a case.
  • Know the various parties in the legal system: judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants and victims.
  • Understand the civil and criminal trial process
  • Explore the expanding use of technology in the legal system.


There will be seven required forum discussions found in the Forums tab. Replies should be substantive. Comments like "I agree," or "Good job," are not substantive. Some things you could do to meet this requirement are: read a little of their research and comment on it; compare their research to yours; give examples if you agree with them, or counter examples if you don't; or share some of your experiences or issues you have seen that the rest of us probably won't be familiar with or have experienced.

Questions and topics posed in the Forums are designed to promote thought and insight. Students must provide a critical review of the questions, topics and issues posed and substantively reply to the contributions of at least three peers. Individual postings should include a full discussion of the content of the question posed and explain how it relates to the concepts in the weekly text readings and other resources. The postings should be analytic in nature and include comparisons/contrasts, and examples that can bolster your point. The Forum is for your benefit and it is important to respond to the discussion topic and to engage others in a running dialogue.

Your initial post should be made by Thursday this week. You should then respond to 3 or more posts. Note that at least one response to your classmates must be made before Sunday. If you make all of your responsive posts on Sunday, you will not earn full points for timeliness.

This can be accomplished by

· Validating with additional evidence from the literature.

· Posing a thoughtful question with commentary which generates further discussion.

· Providing an alternative point-of-view, with evidence and examples.

· Offering additional insight into how the concept might be understood, with evidence provided with real world examples.

You should be active in the classroom throughout the week and actively engaged in the back-and-forth discussion between your colleagues and the professor.

The forum grading rubric can be found in gradebook by clicking on the forum entry.


Written assignments will found in the Assignments tab. Students are expected to complete the assignment by the due date. Please make sure to fully review any assignment instructions and rubric before beginning your paper.


The class contains a Midterm and Final examination. Both exams will be open book and available in the electronic classroom in the Tests & Quizzes tab, during the week they are due.

Required Resource:

U.S. Department of State, Outline of the U.S. Legal System (2004).

Available at:;view=1up;seq=4

All required chapter readings may also be found inside the Lessons tab. Please visit for help with e-textbooks or contact the Electronic Course Materials team at

Additional Resources:

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Columbia Law Review Ass'n et. al. eds., 20th ed. 2015).

This is available in the APUS Library for free here: or may be purchased at your own expense in hard copy/online at: If you are a Legal Studies major, you should be implementing Bluebook citations in all work.

For those of you in majors outside the Legal Studies Department (such as Criminal Justice), you may implement APA Citations. You may find information on how to create APA Citations here: or here: APA Style Guide

Book Title:Outline of the U.S. Legal System - e-book available online, Please visit to locate the course eReserve.
Author:No Author Specified

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.