Criminal Law Courses

In addition to the Criminal Law Course taken by all students in their first 1L semester William & Mary offers a wide variety of other classes dealing with a diverse set of Criminal Law topics.  This includes an indepth look at Criminal Procedure as well as other areas such as White Collar Crime and the Death Penalty. In addition, there are several externship opportunities with public defenders, prosecutor offices, as well as non-profits. If you are at all intersted in Criminal Law you can sample many aspects of this wide practice area by checking out these classes and externships.

Advanced Legal Practice - Pretrial Criminal Practice Law 114C

The Pretrial Criminal course is designed to introduce students to persuasive pretrial advocacy in the criminal law context. Unlike what you might see on television, criminal cases are not usually won in 22 minutes in the courtroom. Rather, the bulk of criminal litigation is handled pretrial trhough pleadings, discovery, witness interviews, and pretrial motions. Students will follow a single criminal case from the commission of a crime to the start of trial, focusing on behind-the-scenes issues that criminal lawyers are forced to address every day. Students will receive reports of a crime, interview the defendant and/or the victims, investigate the evidence, and determine which charges to bring. Students will then engage in various pretrial activities typically found in criminal practice, such as moving for discovery, preparing exhibits for trial, and negotiating plea deals. Students will write two substantial motions to suppress. The class will culminate with a final oral argument based upon a written motion to suppress.

American Jury Seminar Law 542

This seminar provides a broad overview of contemporary jury system management and trial procedure with an emphasis on current policy debates concerning the American jury. The course begins with a brief review of the history of the jury and current public perceptions of its role in contemporary society. It then examines the jury selection process from summoning and qualification procedures through voir dire. After a brief examination of jury behavior and decision-making based on contemporary social science, the course focuses on contemporary issues concerning the American jury in civil and criminal litigation. Specific topics include juror comprehension of expert testimony, civil jury verdicts and awards including punitive awards, racial and ethnic bias in criminal verdicts, and the effects of death qualification procedures in capital juries. Grades are based on a combination of homework assignments, short essays, a group project and class participation.

Applied Evidence in a Technological Age Law 308

This four-credit course combines all of the elements of a traditional evidence course along with basic oral and trial advocacy and courtroom technology. The course will concentrate on the Federal Rules of Evidence from a pragmatic perspective. It will also address the evidentiary implications of modern electronic evidence. In addition to the study of fundamental evidentiary concepts, students will try a simple bench trial with traditional and electronic evidence using the McGlothin Courtroom's state-of-the art courtroom technology. This course is supported by the Center of Legal and Court Technology which will train students in the use of the McGlothin Courtroom's evidence presentation technology and provide clerk of court administrative support. Students who take Applied Evidence in a Technological Age may not take Law 309 Evidence. This course satisfies the Third Year Practice requirement.

Criminal Procedure I Law 401-01

An in-depth study of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution including criminal procedure. Considered are general due process concepts; the right to counsel; arrest, search and seizure; police interrogation and confessions; identification procedures; and the scope and administration of the exclusionary rules.

Criminal Procedure II Law 402-01

A study of the constitutional and non-constitutional procedural components of the criminal process. Included are discretionary aspects of the decision to charge; the preliminary hearing; pre-trial release; grand jury proceedings; venue; jury selection; trial procedures; sentencing; double jeopardy; appeals, and post-conviction proceedings. Criminal Procedure I is not a prerequisite.

Criminal Procedure Survey Law 403-01

A survey of all of the major elements of the trial of a criminal case including search and seizure, interrogation, identification procedures, the right to counsel, arrest and prosecution, preliminary hearings, grand juries, jury selection, trial procedure and sentencing. The course will address all of the major issues covered by Criminal Procedure I and II but will do so in less depth. Students who take Criminal Procedure Survey may not take either Criminal Procedure I (Law 401) or Criminal Procedure II (Law 402) for credit.

Current Topics of International Criminal Justice Law 316

This short course offers students an introduction to the international criminal justice system, by critically exploring recent topics and trends. Topics to be covered will include the national prosecution of the crime of piracy, the admissibility of cases at the International Criminal Court (situations of Kenya and Libya), and the position of the Defence in the procedures at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Grades will be based on a final examination.

Domestic Violence Clinic Law 745-01

This clinic offers 6 students who have their third-year practice certificate the opportunity to work with the Williamsburg Legal Aid Office (Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, aka LASEVA) and local shelters to provide legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and their families. Students will learn the effects of domestic violence, and, under supervision, learn to interview, and provide advice, counsel, and court representation to clients in domestic abuse cases, when available. In addition to meetings with Professor Darryl Cunninham, LASEVA's Managing Attorney in Williamsburg, there is a one and a half hour classroom meeting per week or brief research/writing assignment addressing the current practice experiences of the students and readings of domestic violence law. To receive credit for this course, each student MUST attend the first meeting. Pass/fail course.

Evidence Law 309

An intensive study of the law of evidence primarily utilizing the Federal Rules of Evidence. Topics addressed by the course include relevance, authentication, real evidence, competence, heresay, impeachment of witnesses, and privileges. This course satisfies the Third Year Practice requirement. 

International Criminal Law Law 385-01

This course examines the emergence of international criminal law during the last century and assesses the desirability and efficacy of international criminal prosecutions as a response to large-scale violence. The course traces the development of international criminal law, focusing primary attention on events taking place since the Nuremburg and Tokyo Tribunals, and concentrating in particular on the work of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and East Timor, as well as the International Criminal Court. The court traces the substantive development of international criminal law through an examination of the core international crimes over which these bodies have jurisdiction: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression. The course will likewise trace the development of international criminal procedure, a unique body of law that blends features of adversarial and non-adversarial criminal justice systems in an effort to meet the challenges of prosecuting large-scale crimes that can span many years, many miles, and feature many thousands of victims. Finally, the course will examine the political context in which the prosecution of international crimes takes place. It will consider the effect of such prosecutions on peace negotiations and the desirability of international prosecutions in comparison with other responses to mass atrocities, including domestic and transnational criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, lustration efforts, and reparations schemes. Completion of Public International Law is desirable though not compulsory.

Selected Topics in Criminal Justice Seminar2 Law 531-01

This seminar will consider various topics regarding criminal justice. The nature of the topics will change from term to term. See term for description.

Terrorism Seminar1 Law 543-01

Terrorism is a special form of political violence that has been used throughout history by both states and sub-state organizations to sustain a wide variety of causes. This course examines the challenges faced in protecting against and responding to acts of terrorism, including the conflicts of law, jurisdictional limits imposed by international and domestic legal regimes, and the need to balance increased security measures against protection of civil liberties. The course satisfies the Writing Requirement.

The Wire - Crime, Law & Policy Law 369

This course explores legal and policy issues raised by David Simon's critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire. Among the topics explored will be wiretapping, confessions, search and seizure, sentencing law, police manipulation of crime statistics, race and the criminal justice system. In addition to class participation, grades will be determined based on a final paper due the last day of class. The class materials will include all five seasons of The Wire as well as cases, law review articles, public policy papers, book excerpts, and statutes. Before enrolling in this course, please be advised that (1) The Wire contains a considerable amount of violence and offensive language, and (2) this course will require you to invest a significant amount of time before the semester begins because all students must watch the first two seasons of the show in advance of the first class.

The Death Penalty Seminar2 Law 630-01

This course will explore the history, constitutional rules and implementation of the death penalty in the United States. We will examine the special requirements for a capital trial including the selection of a 'death qualified' jury, use of aggravating and mitigating evidence in the punishment phase of the trial, and the right to effective counsel. Arguments by proponents and opponents of the death penalty will be discussed. Students will write a research paper on an instructor approved topic and present the results of their research in class.

Trial Advocacy - Basic Advanced Litigation Law 720

An advanced litigation course intended for those students who have a substantial interest in litigation. The course is designed to develop the student's skills as a trial lawyer for both civil and criminal cases. Trial Advocacy will deal with trial strategy, jury selection, opening statements, presentation of evidence, including the examination of witnesses, closing arguments, and preparation of jury instructions. Evidence presentation and related technologies will be fully integrated into all aspects of the course. A trial will be required. Students who take Trial Advocacy-Basic Advanced Litigation may not take any other Trial Advocacy section (Tech Trial Ad or National Trial Team Trial Ad) for credit. Pre-requisite: satisfactory completion of Evidence. of Evidence. For Trial Advocacy-Technology Augmented: see term description. .

Trial Strategy and Persuasion Law 731

This is an advanced trial advocacy course designed to hone learned skills of trying cases. Through lecture and simulation, the course will provide techniques for both prosecution and defense in civil and criminal cases. Students will role play during most class periods. Prerequisite: Evidence and Trial Advocacy. Course is strongly recommended for Trial Team members. Grading is pass/fail.

Virginia Criminal Procedure Law 397-01

A review of the Virginia statutes and Rules of Court governing criminal procedure in Virginia's courts. Covers Va. Code Title 19.2, Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia affecting criminal and traffic litigation and a large number of cases interpreting the statutes and rules. The course also lightly covers appellate procedure for criminal cases. Some of the topics covered are jurisdiction, venue, pre-trial motions and procedures, competency and insanity issues, trial, sentencing and appeals. It is not a constitutional law course but there is discussion of how state statutes and rules mesh with constitutional requirements. Course is structured for students who wish to do criminal litigation, either as defense counsel or prosecutor in Virginia. This course is open to 2L and 3L students. Either having completed or being enrolled in Criminal Procedure I & II is helpful, but not required.

White Collar Crime Law 440-01

Topics covered include RICO, mail fraud, tax fraud, bank secrecy and currency reporting offenses, false statements, forfeiture statutes, and selected procedural problems in the prosecution of white collar crimes, including privilege against self-incrimination issues, attorney-client privilege issues, and double jeopardy issues arising from duplicative state and federal prosecution.