University of Miami School of Law CourseLink Course Description - Online System
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Fall 2020

Course Description
This survey course focuses on the general part of criminal law, including principles of criminal liability (such as the requirement of a wrongful act and a culpable mental state) and defenses that justify or excuse acts that are otherwise criminal. We will also study specific crimes including homicide. Throughout the course, we will emphasize statutory construction, learning to recognize the elements required for particular crimes and comparing the Model Penal Code with other statutory schemes. We will address the use of force by police. In addition, we will take a close look at recent controversial statutes including constitutional questions about the ways in which Florida drug possession laws differ from other states.
This class is designed as a small section to encourage discussion and make it easy to address students' questions while using remote technology.
Each week, the class will have one pre-recorded lecture and one synchronous online 2-hour class. Following the recorded lectures, there will be some very short quizzes or responsive assignments such as lists of questions submitted by students, reflection papers, or alternatives.

Course Schedule
Dates Day Time Room
08-17-2020 - 11-17-2020   R  10:10 AM-11:50 AM DL

Course Frequency
This course is usually offered every semester

Course Information

Credits: 3
Pass/Fail Option: No
Grading: Graded
Method of Evaluation: Comprehensive final exam.
Graduation Requirements Fulfilled By Course:
Special Attributes:
Bar Course
Distance Learning
Course Delivery:
Online (synchronous and asynchronous)
Special Restrictions:
Law Track(s):
Criminal Law - Basic
Bar Subject(s):
Immigration, Asylum, and Citizenship Law Area of Focus (Area of Focus)   More information
Litigation & Dispute Resolution (Concentration)   More information
Course Book(s):
Textbook Required:
  • Textbook Name: Criminal Law: Cases and Materials
    Textbook Type: Hardcover
    Requirement: Required
    Author: John Kaplan, Robert Weisberg, Guyora Binder
    Publisher: Aspen
    Edition: 8th
    ISBN: 9781454868217
First Class Assignment(s):
  • Assignment: Welcome to Substantive Criminal Law. THIS ASSIGNMENT HAS BEEN UPDATED 8-13-20. Our first class will meet on Thursday 8/20/20 on Zoom. Beginning in week 2, we will have a recorded/asynchronous lecture early in the week and the live/synchronous Zoom class on Thursday. The topics for the first week are justifications for punishment and proportional punishment. The pages are attached below. On justifications for punishment, READ pages 21-27, 29-35; selected topics between 35-70 (sign-up for topics, see specific instructions for first class); AND on proportional punishment READ page 76-bottom of p84 [Graham], and bottom of p 88 – 92 end n.3 [Ewing]. UPDATE - Also read a story published in the Washington Post after I posted the original class assignment, attached here below: "He got life for stealing hedge clippers. The Louisiana Supreme Court says it's a fair sentence," and the 1-page dissenting opinion from the Louisiana Supreme Court, State of Louisiana v. Fair Wayne Bryant, also attached here.

    Casebook: KAPLAN, WEISBERG & BINDER, CRIMINAL LAW, CASES AND MATERIALS (8th Edition, 2017). Supplemental course readings to be posted on BlackBoard include both the authors’ update to the casebook and additional cases and materials.

    TWEN/Blackboard/Course Webpage Link:

    Additional Information:
    Zoom link for first class will be provided by Wednesday 8/19/20.

    Sub Crim Fall 2020 - readings for first class.pdf
    He got life for stealing hedge clippers The Louisiana Supreme Court says.pdf
    Course Requirements + Part 1 of Syllabus v.1.2 [8-14-20].pdf



Contact Information:
Phone: (305)284-5869
Office: G386