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College of Law

Florida State University


Criminal Law Courses

The following courses are offered in the area of Criminal Law and Justice. Not all courses on this list are offered on a regular basis. You must consult the current course list and plan your schedule accordingly.

  • International Criminal Law

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course will examine the criminal law applied across national borders. This includes two broad legal regimes: transnational law, which consists of the part of any nation’s domestic criminal law which regulates actions that transcend national borders; and international crimes, that is, the wrongs criminalized under international law.  We will also study procedural issues, both domestic and international, such as extradition and immunities. In particular, we will examine the case law of the international criminal courts such as the Nuremberg court, the ICC, and the various courts adjudicating criminal law issues arising from particular conflicts (former Yugoslavia and Rwanda among them). 

  • Human Trafficking

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None. 

    Human trafficking represents a troubling side effect of globalization, encompassing forced labor, sex trafficking and the illicit trade in people within and across borders. This course will review and critically assess a diverse literature on the traffic of migrant labor into the United States and the exploitation of U.S. and foreign-born individuals within U.S. borders, with an emphasis on the sociological and legal issues raised by human trafficking. We will consider the blurred lines between immigrant labor exploitation and trafficking, as well as the issues raised involving prostitution and sex trafficking, with due regard for the role of advocacy and the essential lawyering skills of anti-trafficking attorneys. We will draw from a variety of sources, including academic scholarship (articles, books, etc.), domestic and international laws, governmental and non-governmental reports, transcripts from recent federal and state cases, media articles and videos. 

  • Florida Criminal Procedure: Trial

    (2 credits)

    This course covers the Florida law and some pertinent federal law affecting criminal litigation in Florida from plea negotiation through trial (including evidence issues) and sentencing. [Florida Criminal Procedure: Pre-Trial) covers criminal litigation from pre-arrest investigation through pre-trial motions, and that course is a prerequisite unless you have my approval.] My hope is to convey knowledge that will have application in the practice and I recommend this course for students who think they might engage in the practice of criminal law at some point in their professional career.

  • Florida Criminal Procedure: Pre-Trial

    (2-3 credits)
    Prerequisites: Criminal Law

    An advanced study of problems frequently encountered in prosecuting and defending criminal cases. The primary focus is on criminal prosecutions in Florida. The subject matter extends from the initial client interview to the trial. 

  • Federal Criminal Law

    (2 credits)

    This course will study the substantive criminal law enacted by Congress, focusing on questions of statutory interpretation and federal law enforcement policy raised by prominent federal offenses. Topics to be covered include offenses relating to fraud and political corruption, narcotics and money laundering, organized crime, and false statements and obstruction of justice, and the punishment of convicted offenders pursuant to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

  • Evidence in Criminal Litigation

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None, but Evidence recommended

    This course is designed for students who want a detailed and in-depth study of Evidence and related procedural issues most commonly arising in criminal prosecutions. The focus is on Florida law with comparative reference to federal law when it significantly differs. 

  • Evidence

    (3-4 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    A study of the rules of evidence developed by courts and by legislatures. Topics include competency, examination of witnesses, privilege, relevancy, expert testimony, hearsay rule and its exceptions, judicial notice and presumptions. 

  • White Collar Crime

    (2 credits)

    The course will cover a range of topics, including, among  others, corporate criminal liability, mail fraud, securities fraud, tax fraud, and environmental crimes.

  • Juvenile Law: Florida Practice

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisite/Co-requisite: Evidence

    This 3 credit hour course teaches how Florida’s legal system deals with children who allegedly commit acts that would be criminal offenses if committed by adults. The course will teach and develop the practice skills essential for the future practice of juvenile law. Additionally, students will have opportunities to observe Florida’s juvenile courts in action and to hear and interact with judges, juvenile probation officers, Assistant State Attorneys; Assistant Public Defenders, and others who have special knowledge and skills in the area of Florida’s juvenile law and practice. Further, we will discuss issues such as “Direct Filing”; Competency; Collateral consequences of involvement in Florida’s juvenile law system and reforms.

  • Jury Selection

    (2 credits)
    Recommended Prerequisites: Evidence and Criminal Procedure

    This course is designed to introduce prospective litigators to the elements of jury selection. It will cover the different methods by which juries are chosen in the State and Federal Courts, and how to voir dire prospective  jurors. It will also cover the different thought processes in picking jurors as a criminal prosecutor or defense lawyer, a tort/personal injury attorney (plaintiff and defense), and a commercial litigator.  The law governing jury selection will also be covered as well as (time permitting) selecting jurors in death penalty cases, jury psychologists, and juror questionnaires.

    There will be actual participation in selecting juries. Attendance is required and there will be additional assignments, involving research and writing.

  • Cyber Law

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This is a seminar covering some of the legal issues that have arisen with the growth of the Internet. Topics examined will include e-commerce, intellectual property, crime on the Internet, first amendment, privacy, tort liability, and others. Each of these topics will be explored through the lens of a series of jurisprudential themes: What are the appropriate metaphors for conceptualizing cyberspace? Is there any role for law in regulating speech and conduct in cyberspace, or will social norms suffice? If law has a role in cyberspace, are traditional legal doctrines and categories adequate? If traditional doctrines and categories are inadequate, which legal institutions are the best to implement the changes this new technology requires--courts, legislatures, or administrative agencies? 

  • Criminal Procedure: Adjudication

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    An examination of selected federal constitutional constraints on the criminal justice adjudicative process. Topics addressed include the right to counsel and to assistance of counsel, rights relating to pretrial procedures, plea bargaining, jury trial and jury selection, rights relating to trial, double jeopardy, sentencing, appeals, and habeas corpus. 

  • Criminal Procedure: Police

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    An examination of selected federal constitutional constraints on the law enforcement evidence-gathering and investigative process. Emphasis is placed on the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Fifth Amendment protection against compelled testimony, and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. 

  • Controlled Substances: Law, Policy & Enforcement

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This ULWR seminar examines the nation’s decades-long war on drugs.  In addition to focusing on the history behind the drug war, and its underlying moral and political choices, the course will address any number of the many important and interesting outgrowths of the war. Topics addressed will possibly include:   the substantive law concerning drug possession, manufacturing and trafficking; the sanctioning of drug offenders; common features of drug investigations (e.g., the use of informants); effects on constitutional law (especially the Fourth Amendment); and inter-jurisdictional matters (e.g., between states and the federal government).

  • Contract Drafting

    (2 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course will teach the principles of contemporary commercial drafting, introduce documents typically used in a variety of business transactions and provide an overview of principled contract negotiation techniques. The course will be of particular interest to students pursuing a corporate law career, but the concepts are applicable to any transactional practice and will even be useful to litigators.

    Students will be exposed to:

    1) The business purpose of major contract concepts
    2) Translating the business deal into contract concepts
    3) Drafting each of a contract’s parts
    4) Techniques for principled negotiation (win-win negotiation)

    Practical examples will help students understand the importance of drafting with clarity and without ambiguity, how to work through the formal drafting process and how to review and comment on contracts. Students will participate in several multi-phase drafting exercises and mock negotiations.

  • Capital Punishment Seminar

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course examines the history of capital punishment in the United States and the substantive and procedural rules that have over time guided and limited its application. Students will become familiar with, inter alia, matters pertaining to the capital sentencing process (such as jury selection and consideration of aggravating and mitigating circumstances), the role of defense counsel, execution methods, and Florida's current and historic use of the death penalty.

  • Asylum and Refugee Law

    (2-3 credits)

    This course is a survey of international refugee and domestic asylum law. It considers both the law in theory and as practiced. Grounds for asylum under U.S. law are examined in the class, with a particular emphasis upon gender-based claims. The course has no prerequisites, and no prior immigration law study is presumed.

  • Advanced Criminal Law

    (2 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This class will provide students with a thorough theoretical and practical understanding of doctrines and concepts that regularly arise in criminal law cases.  These include: intention; recklessness; negligence and strict liability; causation; inchoate liability; complicity; duress and necessity; and intoxication.  We will also examine some basic procedural issues.  At various instances, we will look at how other common law jurisdictions deal with a concept or doctrine.  Students will be required to write two short papers.  There is no final exam.  This is an S/U only course.


  • Sentencing Law

    (2-3 credits)
    Prerequisites: Courses determined by professor.

    This course examines the ways in which U.S. governments sanction criminal offenders, the goals and rationales of such sanctions, and the limiting role potentially played by the Constitution in their imposition. The sanctions themselves range from the nominally civil sanctions of monetary fines and sex offender registration and community notification to the indisputably criminal sanctions of prison and death. These and other sanctions are examined, providing students with a theoretical and practical understanding of contemporary U.S. crime control strategies. 

  • Scientific Evidence

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course examines the nature of scientific evidence, the recent revolution in the scientific gate-keeping role for judges following the Supreme Court's decision in Daubert, and a variety of controversies regarding the admissibility and weight of particular types of expert testimony. After covering the basic legal tests for the admission of scientific evidence, we will proceed to examine several recurring topics in the law of expert testimony. We will give special attention to questions of scientific identification (common in criminal cases) and questions of scientific proof of causality (common in products liability and toxic tort cases). We will also consider common types of expert evidence from the behavioral sciences, including syndrome evidence and evidence regarding defects in human memory. In each instance we will examine the bases for claims of expertise and survey how these claims have fared in the courts. 

  • Postconviction Remedies

    (3 credits)

    According to Department of Justice statistics, the United States currently has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world, having exceeded Russia's rate in 2000. This course examines the legal remedies available inmates under state and federal confinement to challenge the legality of their custody. Primary topics will include:

    1) Introduction and historical overview: The common law writs of habeas corpus and coram nobis; constitutional status of the writ of habeas corpus. 

    2) State postconviction remedies: Current state remedies, emphasizing the Florida statues and rules governing postconviction relief. Detailed examination of FRCPro Chapter XVII, the primary vehicle for state postconviction relief, including FRCPro 3.853, authorizing motions for postconviction DNA testing. Availability of parallel proceedings for common law writs considered, and the constitutional status of state postconviction relief examined. 

    3) Federal postconviction remedies: Study of the federal statutes authorizing habeas corpus relief for state and federal prisoners, sections 2241, 2254, and 2255; federal coram nobis remedies under section 1651; and the "Rule 35 remedies" available for correcting or reducing sentences for persons convicted in a federal district court. Along the way, examination of custody requirements, exhaustion requirements, and procedural default issues.

    4) Clemency and other executive relief: Consideration of procedures for seeking relief from the executive branches; forms of relief available and grounds for granting clemency petitions.

    Course Format and Requirements:

    The course will be taught in both classroom and clinical settings. The material will be presented in lectures and discussion; students will also participate in the development of cases brought by Florida inmates seeking postconviction relief, based on DNA testing which the inmates claim will tend to exonerate them. The clinical component of the course will be conducted in collaboration with the Innocence Project, which has established a Florida program in Tallahassee. Students will also take a final exam. Materials will be prepared by the professor.

  • Nonpunitive Detention

    (3 credits)

    The seminar will cover a range of ostensibly non-punitive grounds for detention, including pretrial detention, confinement for mental illness, sexual predator laws, and material witness detention. 

  • Cross-Examination

    (2 credits)
    Co-requisites: Evidence

    Cross examination is a complex and difficult skill to master, but is essential to success in litigation. This skills-based course will focus on the planning and preparation for cross by identifying the nature and goals of cross, practicing case analysis, learning techniques to challenge credibility, dealing with evidentiary issues, studying storytelling during cross, and practicing cross tools and techniques. Lectures will be combined with practice problems and presentations, application and critique, “blind” cross situations, and cross games that sharpen cross skills.

  • International Criminal Tribunals
    Course information coming soon!
  • Behavioral Law and Economics Seminar

    This interdisciplinary seminar critically examines the “rational actor” model of legal decision making (proposed by classical economic theorists) in light of the work of social and cognitive psychology.  This course will examine cutting-edge empirical and experimental research and will challenge the descriptive assumptions that underlie legal doctrine in a variety of areas, including criminal law, contracts, torts, corporate law, administrative law, and the rules of evidence and procedure. 

    Topics include, but are not limited to: (1) how moral and social norms interact with legal rules to influence behavior (and whether they should); (2) how cognitive biases affect a party’s ability to bargain efficiently for goods; (3) the psychological factors that guide decisions regarding whether and how much to punish wrongdoers; (4) the power that group dynamics exert on board members in corporate decision making; and (5) whether the traditional “law and economics” approach to tort law fits with psychological research on risk.  Grades will be based on a presentation and research paper.

  • Federal Crimes

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisite:Criminal Law

    This seminar will provide an introduction to the unique aspects of federal criminal law, including jurisdiction, enforcement policy, case selection, and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.  It will also cover offenses relating to narcotics trafficking, firearm regulation, child pornography, and anti-terrorism efforts