Introduction to Criminal Law

Introduction to Criminal Law
Instructor-Led Course
Hours: 24
Duration of Access: 6 weeks
Start Dates: Mar 18, Apr 15, May 13, Jun 17
6,155 Students
have taken this course.


A new session of each course starts monthly. If enrolling in a series of two or more courses, please be sure to space the start date for each course at least two months apart.

Week 1

Wednesday - Lesson 01

In this first lesson, we'll lay the foundation for the course by examining the basic features of criminal law, including how this area of law differs from every other. You'll find this first look at the important aspects of the American criminal justice system very valuable!

Friday - Lesson 02

Today, we'll begin to examine crimes against people by reviewing the facts of a real murder case. Here's your chance to visit a real crime scene and examine the body just as it was found on a chilly January morning. From there, we'll examine the basic elements of a murder case, as well as other crimes against people.

Week 2

Wednesday - Lesson 03

In this lesson, we'll continue our examination into crimes against people by exploring the world of assault and battery. We'll also take a close look at some of the most common myths people believe about prosecuting crimes of violence. Then we'll address the crimes of stalking and kidnapping.

Friday - Lesson 04

How is a person accused of helping another person commit a crime sentenced? Does the driver of the getaway car receive the same sentence as the bank robber? What is a conspiracy? Today I'll answer these questions and many others. In this lesson, we'll examine the roles of principles and accessories, and how prosecutors charge gang members and others who conspire to commit a crime.

Week 3

Wednesday - Lesson 05

What is rape? In this lesson, we'll go behind the legal definition to use plain language to define exactly what the elements of rape are, then we'll look at how prosecutors charge sexual offenders. We'll also try to understand child molestation and the impact that these crimes have on their victims.

Friday - Lesson 06

Today we'll explore the crimes of burglary and fraud. You'll learn not only how a person commits burglary, but also the most common techniques most burglars use. We'll also expose white-collar crime schemes, common games, and other frauds.

Week 4

Wednesday - Lesson 07

Drug dealers have become very sophisticated over the years. In today's lesson, you'll learn how prosecutors and police investigate, charge, and convict people who sell narcotics. We’ll examine in detail the concepts of possession of illegal narcotics, drug paraphernalia, crack cocaine, and other illegal substances.

Friday - Lesson 08

What is the legal definition of bribery? In this era of corporate scandals and obstruction of justice by millionaire businesspeople, you'll need to know the basic steps to follow to bring a bribery or obstruction of justice charge.

Week 5

Wednesday - Lesson 09

It's time to step inside a real courtroom! Today, we'll go beyond what television presents and see how a real trial proceeds from start to finish. Do trial attorneys really scream at witnesses? Can lawyers really get away with some of the tactics we see them using on nightly television? I'll answer these questions and many others in this lesson.

Friday - Lesson 10

When a person is on trial, what types of defenses can he or she raise? What exactly is an alibi defense? What is the definition of legal insanity? How does a defendant actually present his defense? Today we'll examine the role of different defenses, then we'll dispel some common myths about criminal defenses.

Week 6

Wednesday - Lesson 11

From mothers who drown their own children to men who attempt to kill the president, the insanity defense has had a long and controversial history in the United States. In this lesson, we'll step behind the headlines and examine the real details—not only about how to raise an insanity defense, but also looking at what the statistics have to say about the success of this defense.

Friday - Lesson 12

We'll conclude the course with a look at the appeals process. How many convictions are reversed on appeal? Is the appellate process different in death penalty cases? In this last lesson, we'll examine the entire appellate process from start to finish to give you a straightforward guide to criminal appeals.


I am currently working as a Victim Assistance Coordinator in a DA's office, so I have been faced with many legal issues and terms. This course helped clear up some things I was uncertain on and also gave me a good grasp of some basic elements of criminal law. Thanks for the down-to-earth style of writing as well!

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