Criminal Law

  • This Subject Area Index lists all CALI lessons covering Criminal Law.
  • The Criminal Law Outline allows you to search for terms of art that correspond to topics you are studying to find suggestions for related CALI Lessons.

Criminal Law

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Justification Defenses: Excuse Defenses Distinguished

This lesson focuses on the distinctions between justification and excuse defenses. Many of the major legal scholars and commentators have distinguished justification and excuse defenses. However, the modern view often blurs the distinction. This lesson points out the principal theoretical distinctions as well as the areas of substantial confusion or controversy with respect to classification, both at common law and under the Model Penal Code. The lesson also describes those circumstances in which classification one way or the other makes a difference.

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The Mens Rea of Attempts

This lesson is one of several addressing the offense of criminal attempt as set forth in the Model Penal Code. In this lesson, students consider broad concepts relating to the law of attempts, such as what mental state, if any, should be required for punishing an incomplete offense (with reference to theories of punishment) and how certain crimes not so labeled are actually particular kinds of attempt offenses. It then examines the mens rea for an attempted offense, highlighting the distinction between knowledge and purpose, and further distinguishing purpose as to conduct from purpose as to result.

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Minimum Culpability Requirements Under the Model Penal Code

This is an elementary lesson that introduces the concept of default rules in the Model Penal Code. Students will be introduced to the hierarchy of states of mind expressed in § 2.02(5). This lesson uses sample statutes and scenarios to allow students to practice applying the default rules and hopefully to provide an understanding of why default rules are desirable.

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Omissions

In the criminal law, culpability can be premised upon either an "act" or (in appropriate cases) an "omission" to act. In this lesson, we examine the concept of culpability for omissions, and we explore the limits of criminal culpability. This lesson is intended for students who have studied these issues in class, and who wish to further refine their knowledge.

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Plea & Discovery

These two exercises are offered to familiarize students with what prosecuting and defense attorneys do from the time an investigation begins until trial preparation and why they do it. Special attention is given to correspondence, pleadings, and the guilty plea. The framework for both exercises is federal practice.

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