Introduction to Criminal Law

LAJ 313

Winter 2007


Instructor:         Dr. Rodrigo Murataya              Email:     

Phone:              963-3667 @ Ellensburg           Phone:              963-3720 @ YVCC               

Office:              Psychology 458                        Office hour:      T-TH 11:00 a.m.- 12:00

Office:              DHEC 219 (@ YVCC)           Office hour:      MTWTH 4:00 p.m.- 5:00



LAJ Department Home Page:



Required Texts:


Samaha, J. (2005).  Criminal Law. (8th ed.) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.


APA. (2001).  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. (5th ed). Washington, DC: APA


Course Objective:

            Students will develop a basic understanding of criminal law, gain an understanding of the criminal court system, and learn the major types of crimes.  This includes the components of each crime and the issues related to proving a criminal act.



            Students are expected to attend every class session and to be prepared.  Minimum preparation includes reading the material scheduled to be covered in the textbook.  The class will be divided into different groups and the groups will be assigned cases to brief to the class   All case briefs and written assignments will be turned in to the instructor via email to the following email address:



Student Attendance, Participation, and Responsibilities:


  1. Attendance and participation are required for the full benefit of the education experience.  Students are expected to come to class and be prepared to join in discussion of the material.  It is highly recommended that you complete and review the daily exercises at the end of each chapter.  If you must miss a class you should contact a group member for assignments and materials you missed.
  2. Work in groups.  Contribute to your groups work within your assigned role.

3.      Each excused or unexcused absence will result in a loss of 10 attendance points and up to the maximum of 5% (50 Points) of your final grade.

4.      Class begins promptly at 5:10 p.m. and ends at 6:45 p.m. every session.  Failing to attend and participate in class will severely impact your grade.

5.      Be prepared to express your viewpoint and defend it – allow others to express their point of view, as well.  These important exchanges of ideas, that will be debated, are an important element in the learning process.  If students give the appearance of not being prepared, unannounced quizzes may be given.

  1. Keep up on Readings.  You must read your materials according to the schedule in the syllabus.
  2. Ask questions.  If you don’t ask questions I won’t know if I have explained the material sufficiently.  I welcome questions; this gives me valuable insight in how well my teaching is going.

8.       Writing assignments shall be turned in on the days assigned. Assignments must comply with the format requirements as set forth in the syllabus and as provided by the Instructor. Failure to comply with the requirements will result in the assignment being returned to the student and treated as late until the requirements are fulfilled.

9.       Access and Monitor your GroupWise email.  When you finish reading this you should log onto your university provided GroupWise email.  Send me a message that you have finished reading the syllabus.  My email address is  I can then create a class email list to send you material, notices, assignments, etc.  If you don’t know how to do this or have trouble with it, contact the department secretary Karen Flowers at or 963-3208, Rm. 463 in the Psych building.  If you don’t have a computer, there are free computer labs available to you around campus and one in the Psych Bldg.  Rm. 441



Course Format:

            The course will emphasize the reading assignments through lecture and class discussion.  You will be expected to be active participants in class discussions and to have read assignments prior to class.  Not all of the written material or cases will be covered in depth through lectures, but you are still responsible for reading the material and being familiar with it, as all of the reading and written materials will potentially be on your tests. 


1        Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated.  This includes, but is not limited to; Non constructive and/or inappropriate comments and/or behavior, arriving late or leaving early and failing to turn off audible pagers and/or cell phones.

1.      If you miss class for any reason, you will be responsible for obtaining the information, handouts, and/or materials you miss due to your absence.  Extra credit may be available at the discretion of the instructor



Tentative Reading Schedule:

            Students are to read the assigned chapters in accordance with the schedule below, unless otherwise instructed.  The cases for each chapter must also be read in advance, as assigned to a particular group.  Please read according to schedule even if the class lags behind, as we will spend less time on some topics (Subject to Change):


Week 1:           Chapter 1-2                 Syllabus/ First things first: The nature, & limits of Criminal

                                                            Law  - - The Constitutional Limits on Criminal Law


Week 2:           Chapters 3                   The general Principles of Criminal Liability: Actus Reus.


Week 3:           Chapters 4                   The general principles of Criminal Liability: Mens Rea,

                                                            concurrence, and causation.

Week 4:           Chapter 5                     Parties to Crime and Vicarious Liability


Week 5:           Chapter 6                     Inchoate crimes: Attempt, conspiracy, and solicitation.


Week 6:           Chapter 7                     Defenses to Criminal Liability: Justifications


Week 7:           Chapter 8                     Defenses to Criminal Liability: Excuses


Week 8:           Chapter 9                     Crimes Against Persons I: Criminal Homicide


Week 9:           Chapters 10                 Crimes Against Persons II: Criminal Sexual Conduct,

bodily injury, and personal restraint.


Week 10:         Chapter 11                   Crimes against property


Week 10          Chapters 12-13            Crimes Against Public Order and Morals - - Crimes against

the state.



            Lectures comprise of material from the book and possible outside material. There will be several exams given throughout the quarter.  These exams will be every two chapters and will include material from the assigned chapters in the book, handouts, and from the lectures covered in class.

            Students are expected to engage in active, regular, and informed discussions through class participation, which will comprise of 5% (50 Points) of your final course grade.  Quizzes cannot be made up regardless of the circumstances involved for absence.  Tests can only be made up for excused absences.

            No “makeups” will be administered unless there is an official authorized excuse, which can be documented and verified entailing such crisis as medical/ill/accident.  If there is no such justifiable crisis, the following shall apply: for each day late, an assignment will lose half of a full letter grade.



Tests 75%        Case Briefs 15%          Discussion 5%              and       Attendance 5%


Last Test:  Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Grading Scale:

94+      A

90-93   A-

87-89   B+

83-86   B

80-82   B-

77-79   C+

73-76   C

70-72   C-

67-69   D+

63-66   D

60-62   D-

59-       F






Policy on Academic Dishonesty:

Students choosing law related careers are expected to meet rigorous standards of honesty.  Students are on their honor to avoid “proscribed conduct” as defined by the Student Judicial Code (see appendix B. CWU Catalog).  Violations of this section will result in a failing grade in the course in addition to possible university sanctions.


Policy on Diversity:

University-level education is about broadening horizons and looking at academic issues from a variety of perspectives.  With this in mind, the participants in this class are encouraged to bring their own life experiences and viewpoints to bear on classroom discussions and assignments.  Along with the freedom to express one's own view comes the responsibility of being sensitive to race, ethnicity, age, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, martial-status, or political ideology.


Policy on Sexual Harassment:

It is the policy of CWU to maintain a work and academic community free from sexual harassment.  Sexual harassment violates state and federal law and will not be tolerated.  Refer to Appendix A, Section IV, CWU catalog for definitions and procedures.


ADA Statement:

Students who have special needs or disabilities that may effect their ability to access information or material presented in this course are encouraged to contact me or the ADA Compliance Officer and Director on the Ellensburg campus at 509-963-2171 for additional disability related educational accommodations.



Text Box: FACTS:
a.	What are the specific facts demonstrating government action?  In other words, list specifically the government actions that led defendants to claim errors or misconduct.
b.	What was the quantum of proof  for the government action?  In other words, list specifically the facts that provided the objective basis for the government action.  BOTH OF THESE REFER TO THE FACTS OF THE CASE—

This is the legal question of the case.  What constitutional provision, statute, or rule did the police, prosecutor, judge, defense counsel, or other official violate?

This is the holding, or decision, of the court.  What did the court decide with respect to the questions or issues raised?  What legal principle can be drawn from the court’s opinion?

This is the opinion of the court.  What arguments and reasons did the court give to support its decision?  If there was a dissent given, what arguments and reasons did the dissent give for not agreeing with the majority?

Sometimes justices agree with the decision, or result, in the case, but they do not agree with the reasons for the decision.  They write separate, concurring opinions, giving their own reasons for the decision.

If justices do not agree with the court’s decision, whether plurality or majority, they can vote against the decision and write their own dissenting opinions explaining why they do not agree with either the reasoning, the result, or both.  Often the dissenting opinions point to the future; many majority opinions of today are based on dissents from the past.


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