CRJ-251: Criminal Law

Liberal Arts
Social Sciences
Criminal Justice
Academic Level
Course Subject
Criminal Justice
Course Number
Course Title
Criminal Law
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
62.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
62.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
Completion of CRJ-131, with a grade of C or better.
Catalog Course Description

A study of the basic elements of criminal law with particular emphasis on definitions of Michigan crimes.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Goal Statement
  1. To identify and describe the various relationships between the criminal law and the needs of society.
  2. To learn the basic principles of the criminal law in various categories, e.g., definition of criminal offense, defenses, standards of use.
  3. Explain the relationship of knowledge of the criminal law as a vital part of professional law enforcement.
  4. To develop the thought-process of critical thinking problem-solving in criminal law situations. Exercises will be assigned to identify the aspects of critical thinking through emphasis on clarity of thought and objective evaluation to support conclusions
Core Course Topics
  1. Criminal Law and Criminal Punishment
    • Identify non legal influences on the development of English/American criminal law.
    • Identify the sources of American Criminal Law.
    • Describe the basic theories of punishment.
  2. Constitutional Limits on Criminal Law.
    • Identify the major Constitutional limits on the use of the Criminal Law.
    • Describe the use of briefs in legal studies and complete various briefs demonstrating the accepted technique.
    • Apply the technique of critical thinking as espoused in criminal law classes.
  3. Actus Reus
    • Describe the concept of Actus Res.
    • Identify the 4 basic categories of Actus Res.
  4. Mens Reus, Concurrence, Causation
    • Describe the concept of Mens Rea.
    • Identify and describe the types of Mes Rea.
    • Examine the concept of causation and how it relates to criminal liability.
  5. Defenses, Justifications
    • Identify the elements of the defense of self-defense, defense of others, defense of home and property.
    • Identify the elements of the “Choice of Evils" defense.
    • Identify the elements of the defense of consent.
  6. Defense, Excuses
    • Identify the tests use to determine Criminal Insanity.
    • Identify the elements of the defense of Age, Duress, Intoxication and Entrapment.
  7. Parties to Crime
    • Identify the component parts of Accomplice Liability and describe how the law identifies the basis for aider and abettor liability.
    • Explain the difference between accomplice liability and vicarious liability.
  8. Inchoate Crimes
    • Identify the elements of the 3 basic inchoate crimes: Attempt, Conspiracy and Solicitation.
    • Explain how the elements are different in application to a court room case.
  9. Murder and Manslaughter
    • Identify the elements and distinguish between Murder and Manslaughter.
    • Analyze the different degrees of homicide in the State of Michigan.
  10. Criminal Sexual Conduct, Bodily Injury Crimes
    • Describe the differences between common law rape and Michigan’s criminal sexual conduct statues.
    • Identify the main categories of CSC in Michigan and describe the elements for each.
    • Distinguish between the 4 basic categories of Assault in Michigan.
  11. Crimes Against Property
    • Identify the main categories of Theft crimes, both in the common law and under Michigan law.
    • Compare and contrast the various types of theft crime.

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement
  1. Multiple Choice questions:

    • Students will be presented 20 multiple-choice questions on each of 5 quizzes over the course of the semester.
    • The quizzes will cover two chapters of text.
  2. Problem Solving essays:

    • Essays will be used on all quizzes during the semester.
    • Essays will require the student to evaluate and analyze fact patterns.
    • Students will be required to apply to correct standard of law to these fact patterns.
    • Students will be required to reach a legal conclusion based upon their application of the law and their analysis.
  3. Written Homework Assignment:

    • Written homework assignments will be accomplished by the student based on the critical thinking objective
    • The assignment will be done outside the classroom.
    • The subject matter of the problem solving homework assignment will be drawn from classroom material.
Criminal Law, Samaha, Joel  Thomson-Wadsworth. 8th ed. Handouts supplementing the text.


General Education Categories
  • Social Sciences
Institutional Outcomes
  • Civil Society and Culture - U.S. and Global
MTA Categories
  • Category 4: Social Sciences
Satisfies Wellness Requirement

Approval Dates

Effective Term
Fall 2022
ILT Approval Date
AALC Approval Date
Curriculum Committee Approval Date
Review Semester
Fall 2022