Pub Date: 2015
ISBN 13: 978-1-9461350-8-7
Publisher: University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing
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Reviewing the TOC provides a comprehensive overview of the subject matter found in typical Criminal Law textbooks. In comparison to another book, read more
Reviewing the TOC provides a comprehensive overview of the subject matter found in typical Criminal Law textbooks. In comparison to another book, they cover the same material such as sources and limitations of law, jurisdiction and defining elements of a crime.
This text utilizes reliable sourced information that are accessible in the text to check for accuracy. I believe the book is presented in a neutral manner and is unbiased.
The information has a mixed of old and new content indicative of various criminal law books. Different types of dated content are necessary to understand application of law and diverse decisions by judicial bodies.
Clarity in this text comes from the chunked structure, followed by practical examples and exercises.
Yes. This book is consistent with the learning objectives, content and exercises to match objectives. The consistency should be helpful for those needing to be in compliance with Bloom's Taxonomy.
This book is complied nicely. Instead of reading a very long page of information online, the sections were divided by subject matter and thoroughly covered content in a succinctly.
A gradual intensity in content organization flowed well comparable to other texts.
Structurally, the text was easy to navigate and read. The charts and images were not distorted or distracting.
I did not identify any grammatical errors.
I did not get a sense that the book was culturally insensitive. The focus of the text was an introduction to the topic of criminal law and is neutral in its presentation of cases and facts.
I appreciate the unnamed author taking their time to write such a comprehensive text.
The text is comprehensive. I have been teaching Criminal Law for over 20 years and have used several textbooks. This Open Source text covers, for the read more
The text is comprehensive. I have been teaching Criminal Law for over 20 years and have used several textbooks. This Open Source text covers, for the most part, every major subject in Criminal Law that was covered in prior textbooks that I have used in the past. Although the book appear to lack a traditional index and glossary separate in the book, there are lots of information, links to other websites, etc to provide plenty of information regarding key terms and concepts.
The content in this textbook appears to be accurate. It provides many references (i.e., Books, Cases, Articles, Websites, etc.) many of which are used in most private industry textbooks of its kind.
The Content in this text is taken primarily from 2012. Since it is now 2017, it is probably due for an update. However, it was noted that University of Minnesota Library edited this material in 2015. Notwithstanding, a lot of the material used is still relevant for understanding Criminal Law concepts. The good thing here is that it appears to be a relatively easy process to update information which can make for an easy transition from old to new and thereby strengthening the longevity of the overall text.
The book is written in plain language that allows for clarity of information. It is relatively concise, straight forward and appears to be very user friendly for undergraduate students. Also, the book provides many examples and figures (visual aids and illustrations) that further explains many of the terms (technical and otherwise) for better understanding.
The text is, for the most part, consistent throughout in terms of the order or layout from chapter to chapter. Each chapter is consistent in its presentation (i.e., key areas of discussion subtitled under each chapter, objectives are provided for each subtitles and key concepts relevant to each subtitle). Also, diagrams, charts & figures are consistent in each chapter as well as scenarios, Key takeaways and exercises are provided at the end of each chapter. One caveat however is that the terms in blue are not always consistent in that some are links to other information and some of the terms are just written in blue.
Again, the book is arranged in a modular format via chapter and sections. Each chapter are broken down into sections which include relevant terms and concepts that directs back to the chapter. These sections allow the reader to keep learning and comprehension focused without running the risk of losing the chapter’s objectives. The text places the table of contents in the area prior to downloading the textbook. Probably would have been best at the beginning which would help with even better navigation. Nonetheless, the sections within each chapter still provides enough navigation within the chapters sufficient to maintain a reasonable flow of information.
This book displays good organization, structure and flow. The organization of the chapters pursuant to various criminal law subjects are relatively consistent with other texts that I have used in the past. The table of contents could have been better placed at the top of chapter 1, but not a deal breaker as for as organization is concerned. The structure is good, particularly, the alignment of the chapters with the charts, graphs, illustrations, videos, etc. Finally, the chapters provide a favorable flow from one area of criminal law to the next. Each chapter conclude with an “End-of-Chapter Material.”
I didn’t see any major problems with how the textbook interfaced with the reader. In some spots, I was not able to get back right away to original page after clicking on some of the illustrations. I had to go totally out of the page and back to downloads to get back into the text. Could be an issue with my computer, just not sure. Also, some links didn’t work and needed to be updated. However, a lot of the links did work.
I didn’t really encounter any substantial amount of grammatical errors. Again, some of the links perhaps need to be updated and/or refreshed.
I didn’t detect any problems here. Appeared to contain common issues relative to Criminal Law and Criminal Justice that may create some controversial discussion, but nothing appearing to be unbiased, culturally or otherwise.
I thought this textbook would be one I could be comfortable with adopting for my class. It contains the major topics, relative to Criminal Law, that are consistent with the topics in many of the leading textbooks for purchase and that I have used before. In conclusion, this book appears to be a good textbook overall based on the above reasons provided in the review above) and one that I may consider recommending to others.
The text appears comprehensive but the lack of a Table of Contents page makes it difficult to assess at first glance the scope of the work. read more
The text appears comprehensive but the lack of a Table of Contents page makes it difficult to assess at first glance the scope of the work.
It appeared very well researched.
It is written in a way that it could be easily updated by adding relevant cases (e.g., the text mentions a celebrated case of Casey Anthony to illustrate circumstantial and direct evidence. I can see such concepts being made relevant by a switch to the case du jour.
Decent, but again my concern was involving some of the framing and lack of TOC.
I think it has modularity.
Good, but a TOC would have helped organize the general framing better.
The interface was well done.
The text was inclusive and relevant for today's criminal justice system debates and controversies.
I would have liked to know the author and the TOC should have been displayed at the front-end. Other than that, great work!
Criminal law textbooks require a number of specific topics in order to meet the expectations of the course. This textbook contains those essential read more
Criminal law textbooks require a number of specific topics in order to meet the expectations of the course. This textbook contains those essential elements. The table of contents very clearly outlines each chapters and subsection so that students/instructors are able to identify each content area. An appendix contains a listing of relevant cited case citations for further review. There does not appear to be a glossary or index apart from the appendix but each chapter concludes with an "End of Chapter" section that lists answers to exercises, questions, case listings, summaries, and links to applicable cases, articles, and websites.
I found no evidence of inaccurate information or bias presented within this text.
This text follows the standard format that most criminal law texts adopt. Each subsection within the 14 chapters can be easily updated with seminal cases that may emerge. Most of the content within this text will remain intact but the format allows for efficient updates, as necessary. The author utilizes examples that will be of interest for a number of years.
This is where a number of criminal law/procedure texts fall short. This was one of the text's key strengths. This text was extremely accessible to students of all levels. It contained excellent examples and explanations that illustrated each of the main concepts. I especially enjoyed the author's writing style. I found the prose both well-written and conversational, which contributes to the strength of this text. The presentation of the material throughout each chapter was complemented by interesting examples and critical thinking exercises that encourage application of the material.
This text followed a consistent framework throughout. Each chapter was laid out in the established format containing each of the content areas. The material was presented with applicable exercises and questions throughout. Each chapter concludes with an "End of Chapter" section that lists answers to exercises, questions, case listings, summaries, and links to applicable cases, articles, and websites. I found the summaries and exercises especially useful. Key words are italicized for emphasis and quick reference. The chapters were easy to follow as they contained a number of subheadings to keep the material organized. Further, each chapter is made up of specific learning objectives that conclude with exercises and reference material.
Each chapter is made up of specific learning objectives that can be easily assigned based on content areas within the course. These objectives are fairly brief and contain exercises and reference material at the conclusion. I found this approach to be a key strength of this text since it offers a framework for assignment creation and discussion of key points within each chapter. When you look at how many learning objectives are actually contained within the entire text, there are hundreds of links to websites with reference material and exercises that students can complete independently or as part of a classroom discussion.
This text followed a consistent framework throughout. Each chapter was laid out in the established format containing each of the content areas. The material was presented with applicable exercises and questions throughout. Each chapter concludes with an "End of Chapter" section that lists answers to exercises, questions, case listings, summaries, and links to applicable cases, articles, and websites. I found the summaries and exercises especially useful. I also enjoyed the pictures, graphics, and illustrations used to develop the material. Each objective contains an interesting component entitled "key takeaways" that lists a sentence or two describing the main points to recall.
I checked a number of the links within the text and they all worked for me. I also used the table of contents to navigate through the text and was able to get to each section very easily. The table of contents and home buttons appear on the upper right corner and allow the reader to quickly locate the area that they need. The table of contents lists each chapter and unit by number and title (topic) for ease of use.
I do not recall noticing any grammatical errors. This is exceptionally important since a textbook and author lose credibility when there are a number of grammatical issues.
I found no culturally insensitive or offensive examples presented within this text.
I would certainly adopt this text. I found it as sufficient as any other criminal law text offered for purchase. In some areas (noted above as key strengths), it is superior to texts that I have read/used. I enjoyed reading through this text and plan to adopt it if/when I teach this course in the future.
This text covers all of the basic concepts found in other traditional criminal law survey texts with the exception of an instructional overview on read more
This text covers all of the basic concepts found in other traditional criminal law survey texts with the exception of an instructional overview on reading and interpreting case reports—a significant shortcoming given the author’s heavy use of external links to such reports. Though the text lacks both an index and a glossary, these are unnecessary in a searchable electronic document. A table of contents is likewise unnecessary in a PDF in which bookmarks have been added to navigate the contents of the text. Such is the case here; however the text, by default, should open with the bookmarks displayed. The lack of these traditional elements would only be inconvenient for the undoubtedly small percentage of students who prefer to print the whole book.
Bearing in mind that the purpose of the text is to provide a broad overview of the subject for undergraduate students, the key concepts and summaries are accurate.
Periodic updates will be necessary due to developments in both statutory and case law. The extensive use of links to external sites might pose a problem should the site addresses change.
The author’s vocabulary is appropriate to an undergraduate audience, and the author’s liberal use of simple sentences results in a very clear and accessible writing style. New terms are clearly introduced to the reader and subsequently integrated into the text; however, the author identifies these new terms inconsistently (see Consistency below).
The text is consistent in terms of both its visual and stylistic presentation, but less so in its introduction of key terms, which the author introduces or uses in italics, bold, and blue with no discernible purpose. The blue font, though more eye-catching, is confusing at times because it is also used extensively throughout the text for hyperlinks. To compound the confusion, the author chose not to underline these links.
The text is obviously designed as an integrated whole but could, with little effort, be rearranged to suit criminal law surveys of varied lengths or to suit an instructor’s specific approach. The chapters and sections also lend themselves for use as selected readings.
The author has organized the text in a manner that will be familiar anyone who has every used a survey text in substantive criminal law. The first half (comprising eight chapters) covers the “general part” of criminal law, providing an overview of the historical, theoretical and functional context of criminal law in the United States; its structure; its constitutional limitations; and its attendant concepts of criminal defenses, liability, complicity, and inchoate crimes. The second half (comprising the remaining five chapters), covers the “special part” of the criminal law—an overview of the most common criminal offenses arranged by type or family: criminal homicide, sex offenses and crimes involving force or fear, crimes against property, public order crimes, and crimes against the government. The sequential progression of this content is appropriate and the amount of space given to each topic is balanced for the most part though the author spends more time explaining the legal system than the traditional criminal law survey text.
The author has included a significant number of graphic embellishments (to set off ancillary material from the body of the text) and graphic aids. Neither add much to the text and both are stylistically problematic—making too much use of unnecessary colors and graphic effects as well as contributing to a number of odd page breaks throughout the text. Some of the graphic aids are too complicated. Others employ an inappropriate graphic layout for the information being presented. For instance, on pages 46-48, the author uses three hierarchical charts to depict the nation’s tripartite system of government. What each chart actually depicts, however, is the bifurcated nature of the nation’s federal and state governments. As a result, the chart on page 47 seems to suggest that both the federal and state governments fall under a larger “executive.” Overall, the text would be better served by a more sparing use of graphic aids and embellishments. Some of the information might be better presented/summarized in a simple table format. The remaining charts would be more appealing and easier to comprehend if they were re-done in simple, black and white, line art. The graphics used to set ancillary materials (such as the “Crack the Code” exercises) should be removed and those materials set off by a pastel background (as the author has done elsewhere) or by a simple line border, and a different font.
There were a few minor errors in grammar and punctuation—no glaring problems—and overall it was quite grammatically solid.
In its current form, most instructors will find that the text has too many shortcomings to be acceptable as a stand-alone survey text for an undergraduate course in criminal law; however, the text’s strengths—it’s clear, concise prose and topical comprehensiveness—make it an attractive candidate for use as a supplementary reference text.
This is an excellent introductory text for undergraduates.The textbook does a good job of introducing the basic legal concepts of criminal law, but read more
This is an excellent introductory text for undergraduates.The textbook does a good job of introducing the basic legal concepts of criminal law, but it would not be appropriate for a law school course as it does not have the depth or technical . However, there is not a table of contents, index or glossary incorporated into the body of the text. This makes it rather difficult to navigate from section to section without having to scroll up and down unnecessarily through text to find things.
The book has an accurate presentation of general information given that the book is not meant to be a treatise in law school.
Most of the content is up-to-date and will not be obsolete quickly. However, there are external links that may expire and that may require vigilance by the instructor in ensuring the currency of the link. Updates should be relatively easy as the text is written in a modular way.
The book is written in a concise way that is extremely "user friendly" with accessible prose. The jargon/technical terminology is very approachable with good examples that are concrete and relatable to an undergraduate student. The usage of visual aids and formatting techniques to emphasize different concepts further aids the reader's understanding.
The text is internally consistent in style, terminology, formatting and presentation of information.
The text is written in a modular way that would be easy to reorganize without any disruption to the reader. If left in its current form, the text would benefit from subheadings that are numbered into even more specific subsets with indentations. e.g. 1.1(a)(ii) rather than 1.1. This would aid the reader in tracking concepts/linking of concepts substantively and organizationally.
The organization, structure and flow of the material is one of the greatest strengths of the book. It has a natural sequence that is appealing and logical.
This is the most challenging aspect of the text because of the lack of the table of contexts/index and glossary, navigation is a serious issue if not read sequentially. Images and charts are often distorted and the text is not always formatted in the most readable style--the consistent spacing of text is monotonous to the eye. Varying the paragraph and sentence spacing as well as ensuring page breaks and headings are logically placed is essential and missing in the text.
The grammar is fine with no noticeable errors.
The text is culturally appropriate.
The author’s work itself is very strong. The book is topically sound, covering the appropriate subjects for an introduction to criminal law. read more
The author’s work itself is very strong. The book is topically sound, covering the appropriate subjects for an introduction to criminal law. Unfortunately, there is no index or glossary (or table of contents within the text). This concern, along with other issues I have with the text, are issues that should be resolved through the editing process. Unfortunately, these two components are covered in the same evaluation - comprehensiveness - resulting in a mediocre rating when the review would be better served to have highest marks for coverage and lowest marks for index/glossary/etc.
Legal texts, by nature, are always subject to criticism/dissection of particular case analysis, etc. However, this book deals with broad concepts appropriately.
Criminal law is always evolving. However, the core concepts provided in this text have and should continue to stand the test of time. My only concern would be with the number of hyperlinks utilized throughout the book (which intentionally utilizes links over the inclusion of extensive case excerpts), as even the most “stable” of sites occasionally change resulting in an inability to easily access referenced information. If adopting the text, I would consider saving all hyperlinked materials to a location over which the professor has control, thereby ensuring students would have access for the duration of the course.
The book’s clarity is one of its strongest features. The author does an excellent job of writing in understandable language with careful discussion and explanation of key technical terms.
The book is consistent in its approach, terminology and depth of treatment of the covered topics.
The book is arranged by chapter and then section – i.e., Chapter 9 is comprised of Sections 9.1 (Homicide), 9.2 (Murder), 9.3 (First-Degree Murder), 9.4 (Felony Murder), 9.5 (Second Degree Murder), 9.6 (Manslaughter), 9.7 (End-of-Chapter Material). The logical use of such section numbers allows for shorter assignment of readings. Again, I would note that the book would benefit significantly from the inclusion of a detailed table of contents to allow the professor and/or student to more easily appreciate the organization and potential for reorganization or sub-chapter assignments.
The book provides a basic introduction of criminal law, the US legal system and its constitutional protections before delving into traditional areas of coverage in a criminal law text – general elements of and defenses to a crime and specific offenses. As discussed in the previous response, the chapters are broken down into logical sections.
The book’s interface is one of its most disappointing features. Page breaks are often in the wrong place, fonts and spacing are inconsistent and many of the charts and illustrations are fuzzy and difficult to read.
I noticed several very minor grammatical issues but overall it was very well written.
The cultural relevance is appropriate for the course.
As a result of the "star" ratings system, this review may appear to be very positive. Indeed, the author should be applauded for creating a very strong manuscript appropriate for undergraduate students (and law students seeking to supplement their understanding of criminal law issues). Unfortunately, the text, as currently available, is extremely difficult to fully utilize given the lack of table of contents, index and glossary and the obvious need for a final polish to correct page breaks, font inconsistencies, and blurry charts. A professor interested in adopting this book should anticipate devoting significant time to revising and editing for use in his or her course -- work which could ultimately be broadly disseminated pursuant to the creative commons licensing. Absent such efforts, students would immediately appreciate the difference in this open textbook and a traditional one, likely to their detriment.
For a text aimed at undergraduates, very comprehensive; it covers all of the topics in criminal law that ought to be covered. read more
For a text aimed at undergraduates, very comprehensive; it covers all of the topics in criminal law that ought to be covered.
Here and there, one could quibble with descriptions of the legal rules and concepts or w/ the description of cases but all-in-all, it's accurate.
Definitely not out-of-date. The book provides plenty of contemporary examples and refers to new cases. Of course, at some point in the future, a new edition would be appropriate.
Probably its best feature. extremely easy to follow. I also liked the flow charts.
No problems at all. In fact, good transitions from one topic to the next and the book (and each chapter) were well-organized.
Please see comment above. Again, I thought that it was easy to read. There were not large pieces of text that were hard to swallow.
I thought that the orgzanization made sense. Some topics ought to be introduced before others. The introduction did a good job of setting up the rest of the book.
No problems at all.
Again, absolutely no problems here.
It's hard to write a textbook about any legal topic that would be appropriate for undergraduates. from my experience, most existing textbooks are either too detailed (for law students) or too simplistic (almost as if thety're written for high school students). This book strikes the right balance. It's as good as any other text on criminal law that I've encountered so far.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Introduction to Criminal Law
- Chapter 2: The Legal System in the United States
- Chapter 3: Constitutional Protections
- Chapter 4: The Elements of a Crime
- Chapter 5: Criminal Defenses, Part 1
- Chapter 6: Criminal Defenses, Part 2
- Chapter 7: Parties to Crime
- Chapter 8: Inchoate Offenses
- Chapter 9: Criminal Homicide
- Chapter 10: Sex Offenses and Crimes Involving Force, Fear, and Physical Restraint
- Chapter 11: Crimes against Property
- Chapter 12: Crimes against the Public
- Chapter 13: Crimes against the Government
- Chapter 14: Appendix A: Case Listings
About the Book
Criminal Law uses a two-step process to augment learning, called the applied approach. First, after building a strong foundation from scratch, Criminal Law introduces you to crimes and defenses that have been broken down into separate components. It is so much easier to memorize and comprehend the subject matter when it is simplified this way. However, becoming proficient in the law takes more than just memorization. You must be trained to take the laws you have studied and apply them to various fact patterns. Most students are expected to do this automatically, but application must be seen, experienced, and practiced before it comes naturally. Thus the second step of the applied approach is reviewing examples of the application of law to facts after dissecting and analyzing each legal concept. Some of the examples come from cases, and some are purely fictional. All the examples are memorable, even quirky, so they will stick in your mind and be available when you need them the most (like during an exam). After a few chapters, you will notice that you no longer obsess over an explanation that doesn’t completely make sense the first time you read it—you will just skip to the example. The examples clarify the principles for you, lightening the workload significantly.
About the Contributors
Criminal Law is adapted from a work produced by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution. This adapted edition is produced by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing through the eLearning Support Initiative.