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CRM 3246 Law of Criminal Procedure

Course Description

This course is designed to take the student through the majority of the current U.S. Constitutional law as applied to criminal law. The student will closely examine such constituted theories as searches and seizures of persons and places, self-incrimination, use of the exclusionary rule, right to counsel, and proceedings at trial and post-trial

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to

  • Identify constitutional limitations of government in the manner it proceeds against citizens in criminal matters
  • Recognize that criminal procedure can be a complicated subject in constant flux
  • Read and brief criminal appeal cases dealing with alleged violation of the U.S. Constitution
  • Describe the rule of law and how it must be administered within the constraints of the U.S. and the state constitutions
  • Explain the process by which the appeals system functions in matters of criminal law

Week 1

Lecture: Course Introduction and Welcome
Lecture: Criminal Procedure and the Constitution


  • Identify that constitutions are a set of permanent, general principles
  • Identify that criminal procedure is a set of rules the government must follow
  • Describe the U.S. Constitution and how it is the highest authority in all criminal proceedings
  • Distinguish between the total and the selective incorporation

Week 2

Lecture: The Definition of Searches and Seizures


  • Describe the Fourth Amendment bans on unreasonable searches and seizures
  • Identify that government actions are not searches unless they invade a person's reasonable expectations of privacy
  • Explain that discovering evidence in plain view, public places, open fields, or abandoned property are not searches, and the Fourth Amendment does not apply to them
  • Explain why invasive searches require greater objective basis
  • Explain why people are not seized when a police officer approaches them and asks questions

Week 3

Lecture: Stop and Frisk


  • Explain the power to stop and question suspicious persons
  • Discuss how stops balance society’s need to investigate crime against the rights of citizens
  • Explain why officers cannot stop people on just a hunch
  • Discuss frisks and the requirement of a lawful stop plus a reason to suspect a person may be armed

Week 4

Lecture: Seizure of Persons


  • Explain arrests (Fourth Amendment seizures) and how they are much more invasive than stops
  • Explain probable cause and the manner of arrest, and how both are required for a reasonable arrest
  • Discuss how police can use both direct information and hearsay to build probable cause
  • Explain why arrest warrants are required to enter homes and make an arrest, unless there are exigent circumstances

Week 5

Lecture: Searches for Evidence


  • Discuss why searches incident to arrest without warrants are constitutional because they protect the officer, prevent escape, and preserve evidence
  • Explain how pretext arrest is a powerful tool in the war on drugs
  • Explain how the consent to search may be withdrawn at any time during a search
  • Discuss how the legality of consent to search by a third party depends on the officer’s reasonable doubt that the consenting party has the authority to give consent
  • Explain why vehicle searches without warrants are constitutional

Week 6

Lecture: Self-Incrimination


  • Explain why police interrogation usually takes place in private and why most suspects speak when interrogated
  • Discuss why when police focus their attention on a single suspect, the suspect’s right to counsel attaches
  • Explain Miranda v. Arizona and how it establishes a bright line rule for custodial interrogation
  • Explain why police conduct custodial interrogations, and why they must issue the Miranda warning before questioning begins
  • Discuss expressed or implied waiver to the right to remain silent and why having a lawyer must be voluntary and based on knowledge of one’s rights

Week 7

Lecture: The Exclusionary Rule and Entrapment


  • Identify the numerous remedies against government misconduct
  • Explain why the exclusionary rule and the defense of entrapment are not constitutional rights
  • Explain how the exclusionary rule keeps good evidence out of court and undermines the prosecution’s case
  • Explain how encouraging criminal behavior is an undercover police tactic directed mainly at consensual crimes
  • Discuss the controversy over social costs and the deterrent effects of the exclusionary rule

Week 8

Lecture: Court Proceeding: Before Trial


  • Explain why when a prosecutor charges a suspect with a crime, it is the start of court proceedings
  • Explain the Fourth Amendment and how it requires suspects who are detained after arrests, to appear quickly before a magistrate for a probable cause hearing for further attention
  • Discuss the bail decision balances and how they guarantee the appearance of a defendant in court and the public safety against the rights of an unconvicted defendant
  • Explain pretrial motions and how a deposition of issues does not require trial
Lecture: Court Proceedings: Trial and Conviction


  • Explain why court proceedings are divided into adversarial proceedings inside a courtroom and informal negotiations outside the courtroom
  • Explain why most cases are decided by a plea of guilty and not by trial
  • Discuss why there is no constitutional right to a 12-person jury
  • Explain how it is that a defendant has no burden of proof to show that they are not guilty

The course description, objectives and learning outcomes are subject to change without notice based on enhancements made to the course. April 2012