William and Mary Law School

Criminal Law

Jennifer on Criminal Lawby Jennifer Morris, 1L

CALI: Computer Assisted Learning Instruction

(Requires access code)

An interactive online platform, CALI serves as a platform for tutorials in a wide range of legal genres. For each category, students can select subtopics to learn more about a given topic  for instance: within criminal law, actus reus requirements or Battered Woman's Syndrome. The layout of each lesson varies, but each typically ranges from 25 to 45 minutes. One can also find skeleton subject outlines, which will be helpful for students who want to ensure they've hit all the major criminal law categories and sub-categories as they draft their own outlines. For those who are willing to invest the time, these exercises appear to be extremely helpful.

Inside Criminal Law (2nd ed.)

John M. Burkoff and Russell L. Weaver
KF9219 .B83 2011
Inside Series

This thin paperback seeks to break down key topics in criminal law to short, accessible, and student-friendly explanations. Rather than taking on an outline form, the authors approach each chapter as part of a continuing discussion linked together by sidebars, boxes, charts, and cartoons. The book is therefore visually appealing and approachable, but seems to be geared towards basic explanations only. The authors skip over many important nuances of case law, and distill only the most basic rules from each topic. Although the book may be good for ironing out misconceptions or understanding the positions of topics relative to each other in the course, it's too basic of a study aid for someone wanting thorough exam prep.

Understanding Criminal Law (6th ed.)

Joshua Dressler
KF9219 .D74 2012
Understanding Series

Without using cases, this book takes a nuts-and-bolts approach to criminal law that will be helpful for those who want an in-depth presentation of subtopics. Especially helpful are the synopses of rules and hypothetical questions scattered throughout the text. The book is well-organized and well-written, but provides many ancillary details that students may want to overlook. Nevertheless, the author provides great clarifying insight into the material, making this study aid very helpful for those who are struggling with particular topics or outlining.

Mastering Criminal Law

Ellen S. Podgor, Peter J. Henning, and Neil P. Cohen
KF9219 .P63 2008
Mastering Series

The Mastering series provides a clear, concise overview of criminal law that includes the definitions and fundamental structures of specific crimes. By laying out the elements of each crime along with statutory interpretations and discussions of sentencing, as well as common defenses, the authors thoroughly reinforce basic principles learned in class. Because the book is so dense, however, it won't be a quick, easy read for those who are looking for crunch-time exam prep.

Criminal Law (4th ed.)

Steven L. Emanuel
KF9219.3 .E44 2010
CrunchTime Series

This study guide provides a comprehensive breakdown of criminal law in outline format, with handy flow charts and capsule summaries to give an overview of each subtopic. Although the flow charts are somewhat lengthy and complicated, they present the information differently than anything you'll see in class, and will be helpful for visual learners. The capsule summaries are useful in filling out an outline, but lack depth; while they're great for last-minute tips and general review, they probably won't be substantive enough to cover all of what's taught in class. Students will enjoy the exam tips, in which the author discusses the themes most frequently tested and indicates how these questions should be answered. The book also features multiple-choice questions and answers, short questions and answers, and essay questions and answers, which aim to show common exam traps. For those who are annoyed by such things, I should note that there are plenty of (minor) typos in this book!

Criminal Law (18th ed.)

George E. Dix
KF9219.3 .R88 2010
Gilbert Law Summaries

A helpful guide, the Gilbert condenses information from casebooks and lectures into an easy-to-read outline format that's still thorough. Organized into subsections with paragraph-length introductions to each topic, the book integrates flowcharts and tables into each section that show how to apply and build on relevant concepts while the reader moves through the text. The author also provides memory aids to refresh and retain details learned in class. Like some other guides listed here, the Gilbert features capsule summaries at the beginning that are great go-to primers for those in a hurry. Overall, this seems to be one of the most highly recommended study aids for criminal law students.

Acing Criminal Law (2nd ed.)

John M. Burkoff
KF9219.85 .B87 2013
Acing Law School Series

This concise, well-organized little book wastes no time in getting to the point and showing how to apply the principles of criminal law. Each section begins with an explanation of the relevant topic and provides a checklist to walk students step-by-step through each legal element. The author lays out complicated nuances in simplified language, and notes common exceptions that students are likely to see on exams. Practice problems and model answers show readers how to apply the checklists to real-world questions.

Questions & Answers: Criminal Law (3rd ed.)

Paul Marcus and Emily Marcus Levine
KF9219.85 .L48 2012
Questions and Answers Series

Aids students in understanding and applying the rules of criminal law through a series of multiple-choice and short-answer exam questions and explanations. Contains more than 150 practice questions, along with an additional set meant to simulate a practice exam. Detailed explanations of wrong answers are helpful for identifying problem areas or "trick" questions.

Criminal Law (6th ed.)

Richard G. Singer
KF9219.85 .S58 2013
Examples & Explanations Series

This book provides widely varied test questions that will be useful for students wanting to test themselves on hypotheticals with difficult and mixed fact patterns. Rather than treating criminal topics separately, the author encourages readers to see how concepts are related across casebook chapters. I'd most likely suggest it as a supplement to one of the other, more comprehensive (outline-style) study aids, to which it would be a great complement. Students would probably find it incomplete on its own.