Criminal Law

Requirements

24 credits, with at least 12​​ credits from the following courses:

The Crimin​al Law conc​​entration requires a 3.0 average within the courses taken for these required 12 credits.

  • Title
  • Type
  • Credits
  • Elective
    Credits: 3

    Deals with matters outside the scope of the basic courses in criminal law and procedure. It comprises three segments. The first is devoted to some of the more frequently prosecuted federal crimes. These are examined through analysis of certain across-the-board troublesome common elements, such as: culpable mental state in tax evasion, money laundering, use of interstate facilities for distribution of drug paraphernalia, sexual exploitation of children; and the materiality element in the various false statement statutes. Also covered are the major enterprise criminality statutes, RICO and Continuing Criminal Enterprise together with the application of double jeopardy and collateral estoppel. The next segment is devoted to sentencing under both the federal guidelines and the New York sentencing structure, including substantive and procedural provisions of the death penalty statutes as well as federal and New York asset forfeiture provisions. The final segment explores collateral attack (setting aside convictions and sentences) under habeas corpus and New York CPL Article 440, including retroactive application of subsequent decisions in both federal and New York practice. No prerequisite other than basic first year criminal law.​​

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    Examines evid​entiary topics not covered in the basic Evidence Class, such as judicial power to control presentation of proof, objections and reversible error, the Constitution as a source of evidence rules, spoliation of evidence, missing witness rule, and explores in depth the character evidence rule and various hearsay exceptions, such as the business records and public records exceptions. Prerequisite: Evidence. ​

  • This is an advanced criminal law course organized around considering whether vice behaviors—gambling, narcotics, commercial and deviant sexual practices, pornography, and drinking—are the proper subjects of criminal prohibition, and, if so, with what means of enforcement and punishment. Vice behaviors have been the subject of radical changes over the past generation, making them an ideal laboratory for the study of the law reform process. The materials that will be used include statistical data, philosophical, historical and legal scholarship as well as policy analysis. The goal is to explore the phenomenon of the "Victimless Crime" and the interrelationship of law and morals.

  • Examines major steps in a criminal case from commencement of the criminal action through verdict. Focus is upon federal and New York procedure concerning: the decision to prosecute, including diversion; securing orders and pretrial detention; preliminary hearings; grand jury proceedings; subpoenas, immunity and contempt; accusatory instruments; discovery; speedy trial requirements; venue and venue change; pleas and plea bargaining; jury selection, voir dire and challenges; trial procedures; jury charges; and related practice.

    This course and Criminal Procedure Under the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments are designed to complement each other in a six-credit study of criminal procedure. Student may elect either course without taking the other.​

  • Examines basic constitutional constraints imposed on law enforcement in the investigation of crime. Primary topics include search and seizure, interrogation and confessions, right to counsel, fair trial, and self incrimination. 

    Professor Breger's class: This course examines - via extensive analysis of landmark federal constitutional cases - the federal regulation of law enforcement investigatory practices including searching and seizing under the Fourth Amendment, compelling confessions under the Fifth Amendment, and deliberately eliciting incriminating statements under the Sixth Amendment. Course themes include controlling police discretion, criminal procedure as Evidence law, class, ethnicity, race, the roles of the lawyers, and the use of social science research.

    Professor Farley's class: This course examines - via close readings of landmark federal constitutional cases - the regulation of law enforcement investigatory practices including searching and seizing under the Fourth Amendment, compelling confessions under the Fifth Amendment, and deliberately eliciting incriminating statements under the Sixth Amendment. Course themes will include discretion and ambiguity in the various roles that judges, defense lawyers, prosecutors, police, legal scholars, social science researchers and others play in the production of criminal procedure. Class power and racism will also be topics of discussion. There will be no final examination. In lieu of a final examination, each participant will keep a weekly journal and write a term paper.

    Professor Bonventre's class: The course examines the constitutional principles governing law enforcement in the United States through the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court and of American State Supreme Courts. The course will emphasize the competing arguments, interests, and concerns involved in the various issues and in the different ways in which those issues are resolved by federal and state high courts. Students will be encouraged to understand the evolution, fluidity, and necessarily ideological character of constitutional criminal procedure law, and the importance of studying courts, judges, policy and politics, both to understand the case law and to be competent criminal law advocates. ​

  • ​This course is about how the criminal process addresses misconduct committed not just for the benefit of individuals, but also for the benefit of some collective entity.  In most such investigations or prosecutions, the entity is a business, such as a corporation or partnership, but it could also be a not-for-profit group or even a unit of government.  The course  will not spend much time on the substantive law of various crimes that are often charged against business conduct, but will focus on use of the criminal process with respect to entities themselves, with a view either toward the actual prosecution of such entities, or toward enlisting their cooperation in the prosecution of individuals.

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    Explores in depth the legal issues and discrete phenomena of domestic violence. Topics generally include intimate partner violence, criminal prosecution of batterers, child abuse and neglect, gay and lesbian battering, elder abuse, and the basis for intervention of the state. ​

  • ​An understanding of the fundamental principles and doctrines of international law that govern the use of force and the responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among the topics covered are the limitations on the use of force and the resort to force, both nation-state and collective action, the treatment of combatants and civilians, and the recognition and prosecution of international criminal law including war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as international cooperation, institutions and criminal liability.​

No more than 12 of the 24 cre​dits from the following courses:

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    ​Examines the presentation of expert and scientific proof in civil and criminal cases under the common law and the Federal Rules of Evidence. Among the topics covered are the basic foundation requirements, such as appropriateness of expert testimony, requisite qualifications to provide expert testimony, proper bases of expert testimony, Frye and Daubert requirements, trial issues, such as use of learned treatises and demonstrative evidence, and issues relating to pre-trial discovery.

  • Elective
    Credits: 3

    ​Introduces negotiation skills, offering hands-on experience preparing for and negotiating legal issues.

  • Examines the role of American state courts in the development and protection of individual liberties, as well as in deciding issues of public law generally, as a matter of independent state law. Includes historical background of judicial review in the state courts, the re-emergence and methods of state-based adjudication, dynamics between the U.S. Supreme Court and state high courts, and recent developments and future of independent state law and decision-making.

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    ​This course focuses on trial-court methodology, commencing with voir dire, opening statements of counsel, direct and cross-examination of parties and witnesses, closing arguments, and jury instructions.

    *Not open to a student who has taken or is currently taking Trial Practice.

  • ​Exposes students to a progression of pretrial skills necessary to the defense and prosecution of a criminal case.  Students are assigned to represent either the prosecution or the defendant in a simulated criminal case and take the case through every stage of the pretrial process. Students conduct a client/victim interview, perform fact investigation and legal research, draft and respond to criminal charges, demands to produce, motions for discovery, and requests for suppression of evidence.  Students will draft a memorandum of law based on their legal and factual  investigation. Students may also draft and respond to demands for inspection of Grand Jury Minutes, engage in plea negotiations, conduct oral advocacy on arraignment and bail issues, and perform other pretrial matters as time and the selected problem allows. Students are required to attend a weekly one-hour lecture and participate in a two-hour lab where pretrial skills are practiced.

  • Using the same simulated case from the fall semester Trial Practice I: Criminal Pretrial Skills class, students learn the trial skills necessary to conduct the trial of the case.  During the weekly two hour labs each student will prepare and conduct the following: introduction and use of exhibits, making and responding to objections, direct and cross-examination of lay witnesses, impeachment, refreshing recollection and past recollection recorded, direct and cross of an expert, opening statements, and summation.  At the end of the semester, the students team up to conduct a trial of the case in which each side presents at least two lay witnesses and an expert witness.  Students are required to attend a weekly one-hour lecture and participate in a two-hour lab where trial skills are practiced.

    Recommended:  Evidence & Trial Practice I: Criminal Pretrial Procedure ​

Participation in at least one of the​ following experiential programs:

  • In this graded one semester experience, students will be given the challenging opportunity to prosecute domestic violence crimes while acquiring basic lawyering and courtroom skills. Students will learn to interview victims and witnesses, analyze appropriate charging of crimes, engage in fact investigation and fact-gathering and, when appropriate, to conduct oral argument, hearings, and/or trials. Under the joint supervision of Professor Lynch and a specialized prosecutor, students will be assigned to work in specialized domestic violence courts in the Capital Region and begin practicing the skills learned in class. There are some opportunities for students to continue into a second semester for 3 credits and to concentrate on jury selection and advanced witness examination skills.

    Pre/Co-Requisite: Domestic Violence Seminar (must register separately)​​​

  • ​The Family Violence Litigation Clinic offers students challenging and rewarding opportunities to argue cases in court on behalf of persons who have been victimized by violence by intimate partners or family members.  Students will learn about domestic violence dynamics and the substantive law and procedure of Family Court.  Students will be admitted to the limited practice of law under the Student Practice Order of the Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department.  Under direct faculty supervision, students will interview and counsel clients; conduct fact investigation and discovery; draft pleadings, correspondence, motions, stipulations and orders; perform legal research and analysis; regularly appear with clients in court; negotiate cases with opposing counsel as well as the lawyer for the children involved; and conduct full evidentiary trials.  Students may also have the opportunity to write or argue an appellate case, conduct administrative hearings, and engage in community outreach. 

    Pre/Co-Requisite: Domestic Violence Seminar (Must register separately)​

  • Dozens of field placement opportunities exist for second- third-year students. They spend a minimum of 10 hours per we​ek​​ at their field placement site and participate in a one-hour weekly seminar.

    Note that most field placement​s need to be topic related and approved by a concentration advisor to count toward a degree.​

  • Dozens of field placement opportunities exist for second- third-year students. They spend a minimum of 10 hours per we​ek​​ at their field placement site and participate in a one-hour weekly seminar.

    Note that most field placement​s need to be topic related and approved by a concentration advisor to count toward a degree.​​

  • Dozens of field placement opportunities exist for second- third-year students. They spend a minimum of 10 hours per week​​ at their field placement site and participate in a one-hour weekly seminar.

    Note that most field placement​s need to be topic related and approved by a concentration advisor to count toward a degree.​

Research​ paper:

Written under faculty supervision on a relevant aspect of criminal law, criminal procedure, or evidence in criminal cases. Must qualify for the Law School's upperclass writing requirement, and may or may not be used to satisfy that requirement.

(Effective November 6, 2012)

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