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Course Catalog > Professional Development > Legal Studies

Introduction to Criminal Law  

An in-depth look at criminal law and the real world of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the paralegals who work closely with them.

Criminal law is one of the most fascinating areas of legal practice. You'll get a behind-the-scenes look at criminal law by examining the world of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the paralegals who work closely with them.

You will examine all major areas of crime: from theft to murder, conspiracy to sexual assault. The trial of a criminal case will be dissected and explained for you. You'll also explore the various types of criminal defenses, sentencing, and appeals procedures. A variety of exercises based on the lessons will give you a hands-on experience. Each lesson will also feature A View from the Inside -- compelling information about the criminal justice system, in the words of actual people who experience it every day.


Requirements:

Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or newer.
  • Mac: OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click here to download the Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.

Other:

  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Prerequisites:

There are no prerequisites to take this course.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.


Gain an inside look at criminal law from a former major-felony prosecutor who has appeared on Court TV. This course gives a behind the scenes look at criminal law by examining the world of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the paralegals who work closely with them.

Introduction to Criminal Law

This lesson will lay the foundation for the course by examining the basic features of criminal law, including how this area of law differs from every other. You'll find this first look at the important aspects of the American criminal justice system very valuable!

Murder by Degrees

In this lesson, you'll begin to examine crimes against people by reviewing the facts of a real murder case. Here's your chance to visit a real crime scene and examine the body just as it was found on a chilly January morning. From there, you'll examine the basic elements of a murder case, as well as other crimes against people.

More Crimes Against Persons

In this lesson, you'll continue your examination into crimes against people by exploring the world of assault and battery. You'll also take a close look at some of the most common myths people believe about prosecuting crimes of violence. Then, the lesson will address the crimes of stalking and kidnapping.

Principals, Accessories, and Attempt

How is a person accused of helping another person commit a crime sentenced? Does the driver of the getaway car receive the same sentence as the bank robber? What is a conspiracy? This lesson will answer those questions and many others. You'll examine the roles of principles and accessories, and how prosecutors charge gang members and others who conspire to commit a crime.

Sex Crimes

What is rape? This lesson will go behind the legal definition to use plain language to define exactly what the elements of rape are, and then you'll look at how prosecutors charge sexual offenders. You'll also examine child molestation and the impact that these crimes have on their victims.

Crimes Against Property

In this lesson, you'll explore the crimes of burglary and fraud. You'll learn not only how a person commits burglary, but also the most common techniques most burglars use. The lesson will also expose white-collar crime schemes, common games, and other frauds.

Drug Crimes

Drug dealers have become very sophisticated over the years. In this lesson, you'll learn how prosecutors and police investigate, charge, and convict people who sell narcotics. You'll then examine, in detail, the concepts of possession of illegal narcotics, drug paraphernalia, crack cocaine, and other illegal substances.

Crimes Against Justice

What is the legal definition of bribery? In this era of corporate scandals and obstruction of justice by millionaire businesspeople, you'll need to know the basic steps to follow to bring a bribery or obstruction of justice charge.

The Trial

It's time to step inside a real courtroom! In this lesson, you'll go beyond what television presents and see how a real trial proceeds from start to finish. Do trial attorneys really scream at witnesses? Can lawyers really get away with some of the tactics you see them using on nightly television? This lesson will answer those questions and many others.

Defenses

When a person is on trial, what types of defenses can they raise? What exactly is an alibi defense? What is the definition of legal insanity? How does a defendant actually present their defense? In this lesson, you'll examine the role of different defenses, and then the lesson will dispel some common myths about criminal defenses.

Insanity and Constitutional Defenses

From mothers who drown their own children to men who attempt to kill the president, the insanity defense has had a long and controversial history in the United States. In this lesson, you'll step behind the headlines and examine the real details—not only about how to raise an insanity defense, but also looking at what the statistics have to say about the success of this defense.

Sentencing and Appeal

The course will conclude with a look at the appeals process. How many convictions are reversed on appeal? Is the appellate process different in death penalty cases? In this last lesson, you'll examine the entire appellate process from start to finish with a straightforward guide on criminal appeals.



Neal Bevans is a former Assistant District Attorney. A veteran of over 150 trials, Bevans has tried every major felony from rape, murder, and narcotics to armed robbery. One of his cases was televised nationally on Court TV. He has a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Georgia (Order of the Barrister) and has been a college instructor for over 10 years. He has also presented numerous seminars to medical professionals about the legal field, including training seminars for legal nurse consultants and sexual assault nurse examiners. In addition to practicing real estate law, he also worked as a title examiner and bought and sold real estate investment properties. An author of fiction and nonfiction material, his textbook Criminal Law and Procedure for Paralegals, was published in 2002. His second textbook, Tort Law for Legal Assistants, was published in 2003. He has also published numerous magazine articles about many aspects of the legal and medical fields, including articles focusing on developing a legal nurse consulting practice. He is also a contributing columnist to Legal Assistant Today magazine.

 

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