Instructor: Thomas D. Arado Office Hours by Appointment

Email: NIUCrimLaw@aol.com


This course examines criminal law in the United States, with a focus on the substantive elements of the law.


Criminal Law (9th Edition) by Joel Samaha (2006). Additional material, as needed, will be posted on Blackboard prior to each class.


Reading of the course materials is required to be able to do well on the exams and quiz. Lectures and discussion are designed to explain and supplement the reading material, not to replace it. In addition, some Illinois statutes and/or cases may be provided on Blackboard for review during class. These materials may be subject to inclusion on the exams.

Your grade will be based on three (3) exams and one (1) quiz, with your final point total adjusted by bonus and/or penalty points (see below). If you are unable to take an exam at the scheduled time, you must contact me BEFORE the exam to arrange a make-up time. Failure to contact me BEFORE the exam will result in a ZERO (0) on the exam unless you can provide appropriate documentation explaining why you could not take the exam as scheduled.

The quiz is unannounced and cannot be made up if missed UNLESS you either a) let me know before class you will not be attending class for a legitimate reason; or b) you contact me after the missed quiz with a legitimate reason for missing the quiz. Failure to notify me within one week of the missed quiz will forfeit any ability to make up the quiz.


Class attendance is required. Absences will be penalized/rewarded as set forth below. Initially, attendance will be taken by roll call so I can try to familiarize myself with your names. Thereafter, an attendance sheet will be distributed at each class session which you must sign as proof of attendance. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to ensure that your attendance is recorded either through the oral roll call or on the roll sheet. If you do not respond during roll call or do not sign the attendance sheet, you will be considered absent for that class. If you arrive for class after attendance is taken, you must see me after class to ensure your attendance is recorded.

On the day of exam, attendance is recorded for the lecture FOLLOWING the exam. (In other words, if you take the exam and just go home, you will not be given credit for class attendance for that week.)

Attendance Penalties

You may miss five (5) classes without consequence. Each class missed thereafter (i.e., 6th missed, 7th missed, etc.) will result in a 5 point deduction from your total points. (E.g. 8 classes missed will result in a 15 point reduction.)

I reserve the right to limit or not impose penalties under special circumstances including, but not limited to, serious illness, hospitalization, family emergency, or previously scheduled university activity. However, evidence as to the reason class was missed should be presented prior to the absence or within a reasonable time thereafter. Failure to provide reasonable notice or evidence is grounds to deny the request.

Attendance Bonus

Perfect attendance will be rewarded with a three (3) point bonus added to the overall point total. Perfect attendance is defined as being physically present for each and every scheduled class. Thus, an absence based on a legitimate excuse (serious illness, family emergency, etc.) is still an absence for attendance bonus purposes. If you miss ONE (1) class, an attendance bonus of 2 points will be rewarded. If you miss TWO (s) classes, an attendance bonus of 1 point will be rewarded.


Participation is expected. Students may be called upon to answer questions during class. Up to five (5) bonus points may be added onto your overall point total at my discretion for those students who, in my estimation, have provided worthwhile class participation on a consistent basis. I also reserve the right to deduct points from your overall score for conduct I determine to be disruptive to the class. The number of points that may be deducted is at my discretion, but the total may not exceed 40 points.


There will be three (3) tests given consisting of 50 questions worth two points per question for one hundred (100) points per exam. The format of the exam may include any of the following: short answer, multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, and/or matching. Each test will be primarily taken from the most recent material covered including text, any additional statutes/cases supplied, and class lecture/discussion.

One (1) unannounced quiz will be given during the semester based on the reading material. The quiz will consist of ten (10) questions worth one point each for a total of ten (10) points.

In addition to the attendance/absence and participation/disruption bonus/penalty points, separate extra credit may be offered towards the end of the semester.

Letter grades will be based on the number of points earned on exams and the quiz. The point total on which grades are based is 310 (100 for each exam, plus 10 for the quiz). Bonus and/or penalty points do not increase or decrease the base points, but increase or decrease your personal point total. Letter grades will be determined based on the following scale:

A = 279 points or above (90% of 310)

B = 248 to 278.9 points (80% of 310)

C = 217 to 247.9 points (70% of 310)

D = 186 to 216.9 points (60% of 310)

F = below 186 points


All work must be the product of the student's own original effort. It is the student's responsibility to familiarize him_ or herself with university policy regarding plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Students should take the university's Academic Integrity tutorial (http://www.ai.niu.edu/ai/). See also the Department's website: http://polisci.niu.edu/polisci/audience/plagiarism.shtml. All infractions will be severely punished: a failing grade for the course and possible disciplinary action by the University.

DISCLAIMER REGARDING LEGAL QUESTIONS: Although I am an attorney, my practice is limited to my employment with the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor. I cannot give any specific legal advice. If you require legal assistance, you may contact the NIU Students' Legal Assistance at Campus Life Building, Room 120, Phone Number (815) 753-1701.

Important Additional Information


Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department's spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary. See the website for dates. All copies should have two cover pages - one with the student's name and one without the student's name. Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year's competition even if the student has graduated.


Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://polisci.niu.edu

Calendar of Class Assignments

1/11/10 Introduction, roll call, review of text, course requirements, and court systems


1/25/10 First Things First, The Nature and Limits of Criminal Law pp. pp. 2-45

2/01/10 Constitutional Limits on Criminal Law pp. 46-77

2/08/10 The General Principles of Criminal Liability: Actus Reus pp. 78-103

2/15/10 Criminal Liability: Mens Rea, Concurrence, Causation pp. 104-135

2/22/10 Exam #1 (LECTURE FOLLOWS EXAM!!!)

Defenses to Criminal Liability: Justifications pp. 136-171

3/01/10 Defenses to Criminal Liability: Excuses pp. 172-205


3/15/10 Parties to Crime and Vicarious Liability pp. 206-231

3/22/10 Inchoate Crimes: Attempt, Conspiracy and Solicitation pp. 232-271

3/29/10 Exam #2 (LECTURE FOLLOWS EXAM!!!)

Crimes Against Persons: Criminal Homicide pp. 272-327

4/05/10 Crimes Against Persons: Criminal Sexual Conduct & Others pp. 328-367

4/12/10 Crimes Against Property pp. 368-405

4/19/10 Crimes Against Public Order and Morals pp. 406-435

4/26/10 Crimes Against the State pp. 436-461

5/03/10 Final Exam 6:00 p.m. to 7:50 p.m.