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LSTD502 - Criminal Law

Course Details

Course Code: LSTD502 Course ID: 2578 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

This course is an advanced theory and practice of criminal law in the United States. The history, scope, and nature of criminal law will be discussed. This course will analyze the general nature of crime, constitutional limits on crime, and general principals of criminal liability. Topics include: legal language and machinery, parties to crime, classification of offenses, act and intent, capacity to commit crime, and various defenses. Primary emphasis will be the common law and modern statutory criminal codes. Students are provided knowledge of the building blocks of criminal law to include elements of crimes and defenses to criminal charges. The role of the police, criminal courts, and attorneys in the administration of the criminal justice system will be discussed in detail. The course will teach the student how to analyze and brief criminal cases, and identify and discuss criminal issues. An overview of the criminal process and rules of evidence will be provided. This course focuses on the fundamental principles, concepts, and development of criminal law and the constitutional provisions which govern it. The course further discusses the relationship of the individual to the state and includes an examination of the general framework of criminal law as a means of social control.

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

After completing this course the student will be able to:

  • Classify and grade criminal activity
  • Identify and discuss the sources of criminal law
  • Compare the theories of punishment for crimes
  • Discuss the constitutional limitations on criminal law
  • Identify parties to crime and the concept of vicarious liability
  • Analyze the uncompleted crimes of attempt, conspiracy and solicitation
  • Relate the justification defenses to criminal liability
  • Assess in detail current issues concerning the death penalty

The grading will be based on Forums, written assignments and open book final examination.

  1. Forums:

    Your initial post should be made by Thursday each week. You should then respond to 3 or more posts. 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 reviewed by clicking on the blue and white box beside the forum entry in the gradebook.

  2. Assignments: Details on these assignments can be found in the Assignments link in the classroom. You will have 2 assignment: Submission of your Supreme Court Essay and your Research Paper (detailed below). They are selected to provide the student with hands on experience in applying the law and theories being discussed.
  3. Research Paper: Each student will prepare and submit a 8 - 10 page research paper on a topic of criminal law. The student will choose from a variety of topics listed in the assignment section of the classroom. It will count as 25% of the final grade. Students will turn in the paper by the end of Week 6. Footnotes must be used, in Bluebook format or APA format. For the research paper students will be graded using a Rubric. This will help with understanding what constitutes the grade assigned to each paper.
  4. Exam: The Final examination is an open book essay exams. It counts toward 25% of the final grade. This examination will cover selected sections of the materials found in the lessons section of the classrom. You are expected to respond in-depth to the questions. Your responses to the essays should be a minimum of 500 words for EACH essay. Proper citation is expected and required.


All written submissions should be submitted in a font and page set-up that is readable and neat. It is recommended that students try to adhere to a consistent format, which is described below.

  • Typewritten in double-spaced format with a readable style and font and submitted inside the electronic classroom (unless classroom access is not possible and other arrangements have been approved by the professor).
  • Footnotes for citations. This is required by the Bluebook citation format. However, if you are taking this course and you are not a legal studies major, you may choose to use either Bluebook or APA citation format.


The central function of legal citation is to allow the reader to efficiently locate the cited source. All courses in the Legal Studies program require that any narrative essay or composition format follow the legal citation guidelines set forth in The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 20th ed., (2015). However, if you are taking this course and you are not a legal studies major, you may choose to use either Bluebook or APA citation format.

NameGrade %
Introduction Forum 1.00 %
Introduction 1.00 %
Forums 34.00 %
Week 1 5.67 %
Week 2 5.67 %
Week 3 5.67 %
Week 4 5.67 %
Week 5 5.67 %
Week 7 5.67 %
Supreme Court Essay 15.00 %
Supreme Court Essay (due week 2) 15.00 %
Research Paper 25.00 %
RESEARCH PAPERS DUE (due week 6) 25.00 %
Exams 25.00 %
Final Exam 2019/ 2020 25.00 %
Book Title: Various resources from the APUS Library & the Open Web are used. Links provided inside the classroom in the Lessons section.
Author: No Author Specified
Publication Info:

Book Title:Bluebook: Uniform System of Citation, 21st Ed - Style guide information available online, please visit to locate the course eReserve.
Publication Info:Harvard, Columbia Law Review
Author:Harvard, Columbia Law Review
Unit Cost:$56.25
Book Title:Various resources from the APUS Library & the Open Web are used. Please visit to locate the course eReserve.*

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.