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

Course Description
Substantive Criminal Law. From the Salem Witchcraft trials through breaking discoveries in neuroscience, deciding how to define what conduct should be punished as “criminal” has been an ongoing challenge for the legal system. This course examines the building blocks of how our criminal justice system defines criminal culpability – mental state, act, defenses and group liability – with the goal of enabling the student to approach any criminal case and understand how it might be charged or defended.

Course Schedule
Dates Day Time Room
08-17-2020 - 11-17-2020   W  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: Exam
Graduation Requirements Fulfilled By Course:
Special Attributes:
Bar Course
Course Delivery:
Online (all synchronous)
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: Modern Criminal Law
    Textbook Type: Hardcover
    Requirement: Required
    Author: LaFave
    Publisher: West Academic
    Edition: 6th edition
    ISBN: 978-1683285144
First Class Assignment(s):
  • Assignment: s AssignmentFirst Class Assignment item options We will be using LaFave Criminal Law (6th Ed) and the "Weekly Reader" (which can be found on Blackboard). As someone new to teaching online, I suspect we will be modifying as we go along, but I’ve been thinking extensively about how to enable you to get the most of the class by retaining an interactive component. My plan, therefore, at least to start with, is to have prerecorded lectures for each week for which you will need to read and watch by the time of our weekly class meeting on Wednesday from 10:10-11:50 in the morning. For the live class meeting, I will begin by fielding any questions you might have on the readings or lectures. We will then move to breakout rooms where each group will have a discussion question to focus on that they then will report on to the entire class. For our first class please read the Class Policies (found under syllabus); watch the Lectures on (1) An Intro to Mens Rea: Malice; (2) Intro to Intent: Purposeful Behavior and Motive and read through II.B.2 below. Then review the discussion questions which are attached to get ready for Wednesday's class. I. Introduction: Everything I Needed to Know for Criminal Law I Learned from Watching M*A*S*H Reruns, Weekly Reader pp.1-6 (focusing on the problem involving Mary Jane Hooch) II. Mens Rea: Developing the Culpability Hierarchy A. The Top Rung of the Common Law: “Malice,” pp. 115-20 (Cunningham); WR 7 (Russian man steals truck for the vodka not the truck) B. Refining the Terms: The Different Meanings of Intent 1. “Purpose” and “general & specific intent” pp. 120-24 (Rocker) & p.125 n.3 (general & specific intent note); W.R. 8-9; MPC 2.02 (a) & (b) 2. A few twists and turns: Motive, Conditional Intent, Transferred Intent and problems with proving intent, pp. 124-27 & W.R. 10-11 (Sean Penn or headed to the pen?) ; WR 12-13 (motive problem); pp. 133-39 (Smallwood)   




Contact Information:
Phone: (305)284-5848
Office: G279