Criminal Law Pathway

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Criminal Law is the body of substantive law (statutes and cases) that define proscribed social conduct and specify the punishment of people who violate these laws. Criminal laws are enforced according to the rules of criminal procedure, which derive from the Bill of Rights and govern both the investigation and prosecution of criminal wrongdoing. All federal and state criminal (and civil) cases are adjudicated in accordance with the rules of evidence. Students in the criminal law pathway consider substantive criminal law, procedure and evidence and learn criminal justice advocacy skills. Most will also consider the role of international criminal justice institutions, which employ unique rules of procedure and evidence and draw from international human rights law. In each context, students will assess broader policy questions including the purpose of criminal law, the role of the police, and the jury system while developing skills essential to future work as prosecutors, defense counsel, private practice counsel, judicial clerks and judges.

There are a number of courses devoted to subjects within the area of Criminal Law as well courses to help you prepare to take the bar examination. Students who want to pursue legal practice in this area should consider the courses below. Other courses, besides those listed below, are offered under the FIU College of Law curriculum.

Please view the Schedule of Classes to determine which courses will be offered during the current school year.

Foundation Courses related to this pathway include: Criminal Law.

Core Courses

Criminal Procedure: Investigation
LAW 6112 Criminal Procedure: Investigation (3). This course explores pre-trial aspects of criminal procedure under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution, with emphasis on searches and seizures, police interrogation and the right against self-incrimination, and the right to counsel.

LAW 6330 Evidence (3). This course addresses the law of evidence, including: hearsay, judicial notice, burden of proof, and presumptions; functions of judge and jury; competency and privileges of witnesses; and exclusion of testimony of witnesses and documents.

Professional Responsibility
LAW 6750 Professional Responsibility (3). This course will examine the law of professional responsibility, including professionalism issues and malpractice risk management, with significant emphasis on the rules of ethics governing lawyers and judges. The objective is to give students an appreciation for the challenges they will face as practitioners, and a working knowledge of the principles of professionalism and the ethics rules that they will use in their daily practices.

Trial Advocacy
LAW 6363 Trial Advocacy (2-3). The focus of this course is on trial tactics and techniques. All students participate as counsel and perform the assignments. All phases of an actual trial are examined, including direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and opening and closing arguments. Co-requisite: Evidence.

Advanced Electives

Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
LAW 6114 Criminal Procedure: Adjudication (3). This course examines topics not covered in the basic course in Criminal Procedure, including the grand jury process, bail, the plea-bargain process, right to jury trial, double jeopardy, joinder and severance, and right to confront and examine witnesses.

Appellate Procedure I
LAW 5796 Appellate Procedure I (2-3). Students, working in two-person teams, will prepare an appellate brief and deliver an appellate oral argument in a competition format. Students will receive substantial classroom instruction in persuasive brief writing and oral advocacy as well as the relevant appellate rules and procedure topics. Prerequisite: Course open to any second-year fulltime student or third-year part-time student who has completed LSV I and II and who is not under academic supervision.

Appellate Procedure II
LAW 7800 Appellate Procedure II (2-3). This course focuses on practice and procedure in the Florida District Courts of Appeal and the Eleventh Circuit. The course covers selected state and federal statutes and court rules governing appellate procedure as well as key appellate topics such as the merits of appeal, ethical limitations, jurisdiction, finality, issue selection, preparation of the record, preservation of error, fundamental/plain error, harmless error, and standard and scope of review. During the course students will typically draft several short appellate documents, such as a Notice of Appeal, a Designation of Record/Directions to Clerk, and a Request for Oral Argument, as well as an appellate brief outline; unlike Legal Skills and Values II or III, the course will not cover brief writing or oral argument.

Civil Rights
LAW 7510 Civil Rights (2-3). This course focuses on selected federal statutes enacted to remedy violations of federal constitutional rights. The principal Reconstruction Era statutes, 42 U.S.C. sections 1981, 1982, and 1983, are examined in depth.

Death Penalty Law
LAW 6105 Death Penalty Law (2-3). This course will introduce a basic outline of the many components of the death penalty post Furman, including the procedural regulations placed upon litigation. Topics will include Eighth Amendment challenges (e.g. juveniles, the mentally retarded), jury sentencing, racial disparities, the prosecution function, effective defense representation, and international law. There will be a particular emphasis on the sentencing phase of death penalty cases. Prerequisites: Foundation courses completed. Corequisite: Evidence preferred but not required.

International Criminal Law
LAW 6103 International Criminal Law (2-3). The course explores international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, torture, narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and war crimes. It focuses on contemporary responses by way of international criminal jurisdiction claimed by individual states, bilateral cooperation on extradition and evidence gathering, prosecutions before ad hoc international tribunals, and the development of an international body of criminal law and procedure. Particular attention is paid to the question of jurisdiction, including the reach of U.S. Constitutional protections to investigations and law enforcement activities overseas. Special consideration is given to international terrorism, the role of human rights in international criminal law, and the establishment of an international criminal court.

Pre-Trial Practice
LAW 6361 Pre-Trial Practice (2-3). This course covers trial preparation from client interview to the courthouse steps. The course considers theory of the case, fact investigation, pleadings, discovery and disclosure (depositions, issues, requests for production), motion practice, settlement conferences and negotiations, final pre-trial preparation, and professionalism values.

White Collar Crime
LAW 6116 White Collar Crime (2-3). Using the vehicle of federal investigation and prosecution of white-collar crime, this course will explore the interplay of different fields of law and of legal standards and administrative discretion — features common to many types of transactional practice. The materials considered will be chosen from the fields of substantive criminal law, criminal procedure, sentencing, administrative law, evidence, corporate law, and professional responsibility. Topics considered will include entity criminal liability, substantive federal crimes (e.g., mail fraud and RICO), grand jury investigations, administrative agency subpoena authority, parallel civil and criminal proceedings, application of the self-incrimination and lawyer-client privileges, federal sentencing guidelines (for individuals and entities) and forfeitures. Considerable attention will be given to Department of Justice policies and strategies utilized by counsel representing witnesses, targets, and defendants. Prerequisite: Criminal Procedure.

Administrative Law
LAW 6520 Administrative Law (2-3). This is an introduction to the laws controlling executive branch agencies of government. Major topics include delegation of power to agencies, modes of agency action, control of agencies by the legislative branch, control by the judicial branch, and public access and influence.

Law, Science, and Technology
LAW 6821 Law, Science, and Technology (3). To examine the various ways in which the legal system interacts with science technology, including the impact of the legal system on evolving fields of science and technology and the influence of these fields on the legal system. Each class will focus on a different theme involving the interaction of law, science and technology, using a specific case study. Prerequisites: First year curriculum.

Military Justice
LAW 6748 Military Justice. This course presents students with the development of Western military justice systems and reasons for having unique justice systems for the military; provides an overview of the actors and institutions in the American military justice system; illustrates the military’s unique criminal offenses and defenses, rights of the accused, Rules for Courts-Martial, Military Rules of Evidence, rules for professional responsibility, all set in the context of a mock courts-martial.
  • Seminar: Scientific and Forensic Evidence
  • Seminar: Sexual Violence Against Women

Experiential Courses


Joëlle A. Moreno, Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development & Professor of Law

Megan A. Fairlie, Associate Professor of Law

Noah Weisbord, Associate Professor of Law

Eric R. Carpenter, Assistant Professor of Law

Charles C. Jalloh, Associate Professor of Law

H. Scott Fingerhut, Assistant Director, Trial Advocacy Program

Phyllis Diane Kotey, Director of Community Externship Programs Clinical Associate Professor of Law

Clinical Faculty

Juan Carlos Gómez, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law

Stephen K. Harper, Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor