Criminal Law Today

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2002-01-01
  • Publisher: Pearson College Div
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Criminal Law Today is written for college, university, and law school students taking their first course in criminal law. Criminal Law Today provides an appreciation for the fundamental nature of law, an overview of general legal principles, and a special understanding of the historical development of criminal law and its contemporary form and function in American society today. Criminal Law Today builds upon real-life chapter-opening stories, attention-getting images, "Criminal Law in the News" features, "Law on the Books" boxes, and special end-of-chapter "Capstone Cases" to bring the law to life. This book also illustrates the role of criminal law as a policy-making tool, and identifies the challenges that face the law as it continues to adapt to the needs of our complex and rapidly-changing society. Special features found throughout the text include: bull; bull;Attention-getting, real-life, chapter-opening stories bull;Web-Extras! (from sites like Britannica Online, the American Bar Association, the ACLU, Nolo's Legal Encyclopedia, and Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute) that link students to the latest relevant legal information via the World Wide Web bull;"Criminal Law in the News" boxes produced by award-winning journalists, and highlighting critical legal issues in today's world bull;"Law on the Books" features demonstrating jurisdictional variation in the law bull;"Law in Practice" boxes illustrating major points from court opinions and other legal sources bull;A focused learning environment built around clearly identified chapter-specific learning objectives, terms to know, bulleted chapter summaries, and discussion questions placed strategically throughout the book bull;Capstone Cases at the end of each chapter illustrating important legal principles bull;A running marginal glossary, along with a complete end-of-text glossary defining critical terms bull;End-of-chapter "Legal Resources on the World Wide Web" sections that provide links to Web sites like FedLaw, FindLaw, Law Guru, Laws.com, The Legal Pad, Lexis One, Mega Law, Versus Law, Virtual Chase, and much more! bull;Separate chapters on high-technology crimes and applicable statutes, victims and the laws supporting and protecting victims of crimes, and the insanity defense and related issues bull;A comprehensive Criminal Law Today site, where Web-based resources are conveniently linked to key ideas in the text Visit the Criminal Law Today web site at: www.prenhall.com/schmalleger. For instructors needing copies of our extensive supplements package, please contact us at: cjcustomerservice@prenhall.com.

Table of Contents

(NOTE: Each chapter begins with an Introduction and concludes with a Summary, Questions for Discussion, Legal Resource on the World Wide Web, Suggested Readings and Classic Works, as well as Capstone Cases.)
1. The Nature and History of Criminal Law.

What Is Criminal Law? The Purpose of Law? Historical Sources of Today's Law. The Federal System. The Model Penal Code.

2. Criminal Liability and the Essence of Crime.
The Adversarial System. The Basic Elements of Crime.

3. Expanding the Concept of Crime.
Corpus Delicti. Additional Elements of Crime.

4. Extending Criminal Liability: Inchoate Offenses and Parties to Crime.
Criminal Attempt. Criminal Conspiracy. Criminal Solicitation. Parties to Crime.

5. Justifications as Defenses.
Types of Defense. The Nature of Defense. Justification as a Defense.

6. Excuses as Defenses.
The Nature of Excuses. Categories of Excuses.

7. The Defense of Insanity.
Competency to Stand Trial. Purpose of the Insanity Defense. The Insanity Defense—A Common Misunderstanding. What Is Insanity? History of Insanity Defense. Diminished Capacity. How Widely Used Is the Insanity Defense?

8. Legal and Social Dimensions of Personal Crime: Homicide.
Criminal Homicide. Murder. Mansluaghter. Negligent Homicide. Suicide.

9. Legal and Social Dimensions of Personal Crime: Assault, Battery, and Other Personal Crimes.
Assault, Battery, and Mayhem. Sex Offenses. Kidnapping and False Imprisonment.

10. Legal and Social Dimensions of Property and Computer Crimes.
Theft Crimes. Consolidation of Theft Crimes. Burglary. Arson. Computer and High-Technology Crimes.

11. Offenses against Public Order and the Administration of Justice.
Crimes Against Public Order. Crimes Against the Administration of Government.

12. Offenses against Public Morality.
Crimes Against Public Decency and Morality.

13. Victims and the Law.
Who Is a Victim? A Short History of the Victim. Victim's Rights Legislation. Victim Statistics. The Costs of Criminal Victimization. Restitution.

14. Punishment and Sentencing.
Sentencing Rationales. Imposing Criminal Sanctions. Plea Bargaining. Traditional Sentencing Options. Hate Crimes. Capital Punishment. Intermediate Sanctions.

Appendix A: The Constitution of the United States of America.
Appendix B: The Model Penal Code Excerpts.
Table of Cases.
Subject Index.


My purpose in writing this textbook has been to provide students with an appreciation for the fundamental nature of law, an overview of general legal principles, and a special understanding of the historical development of criminal law and its contemporary form and function in today's American society. Stories from real life, the critical placement of photographs illustrating cogent contemporary issues, and the use of end-of-chapter Capstone Cases are all meant to bring the law to life. My approach has been strongly influenced by my belief that the law has always been, and remains, a vital policy-making tool. As a topic for study and discussion, the nature and life of the law is more important today than ever before. The challenges that face the law as it continues to adapt to the needs of a complex and rapidly changing society are highlighted in this text and serve to emphasize for readers the contemporary relevance of our ever-evolving American criminal law. A central feature of this textbook can be found in its Capstone Cases, placed at the end of each chapter, which provide actual court opinions illustrating important themes in the law. Capstone Cases afford significant insights into the everyday workings of American jurisprudence, and they illustrate the logic by which appellate decisions are made. Law on the Books and Criminal Law in the News boxes, placed throughout the text, illustrate the multiplicity of legal perspectives found at federal, state, and local levels and make students aware of jurisdictional differences in the law. Marginal quotations, found alongside the text column throughout the book, serve to illustrate the inevitable link between matters of the criminal law and contemporary social issues. Unlike most other criminal law textbooks,Criminal Law Todaydraws on the latest technology to facilitate learning. The World Wide Web site ( http://www.prenhall.com/schmalleger ) that supportsCriminal Law Todayprovides a wealth of resources, activities, and ideas for both students and professors. Special end-of-chapter Legal Resources on the World Wide Web sections refer students to theCriminal Law Todayhome page, which is regularly updated, and to other important Criminal Law Resources on the Internet. Finally,Criminal Law Todayis the only criminal law textbook that I am aware of which is supported by a full-featured student study guide. The guide, written by noted attorney and educator Cliff Roberson of Washburn University, allows students to integrate the ideas presented in the text and facilitates the learning of what might otherwise be difficult concepts. The guide also provides a useful self-paced review and allows self-testing for students wishing to delve more deeply into the subject matter of this text. Like any author, lost in the proverbial forest of words, it is sometimes difficult for me to get a clear view of how my books will be received. As the first edition of this book neared completion, however, I felt satisfied that I had achieved what I set out to do. That feeling came as I glanced over the observations of one reviewer who had painstakingly read through this book as it was under development. His final comment, after months of review, accompanied by well-placed suggestions, read as follows: "This textbook presents criminal law, which is as ancient as human society itself, in a fresh, modern format . . . one which will bring criminal law to life for students everywhere." That's just what I intended! Frank Schmalleger The Justice Research Association

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