Instructor: Thomas D. Arado                                                 Office Hours: After class or 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.


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 reading materials 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 (300 total points), one (1) quiz (10 points), and attendance (10 points), with your final point total adjusted by bonus and/or penalty points (see below).


Class attendance is required. Attendance is worth ten (10) points. You may be absent for up to four (4) classes without penalty. Each class missed thereafter will result in a one point deduction for each class. For example, if you are absent for six classes, you will earn only 8 attendance points. Any class canceled by me will not affect your attendance (i.e., missing 6 regularly held classes will still result in a two point deduction.)

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.

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.

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.)

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 of said legitimate reason within one week of the missed quiz will forfeit any ability to make up the quiz.


Students are to arrive at class on time. Cell phones, pagers, or any electronic devices that make noise must be turned off during class unless the instructor has been notified beforehand of a special circumstance (e.g., sick family member, pregnant wife, special childcare situation, etc.). No one should talk while someone else is talking; this includes comments meant for a classmate rather than the entire group. What may seem like a whisper or a harmless remark to one person can be a distraction to someone else, particularly in a small room. Overall, classroom dialogue and behavior should always be courteous, respectful of others, and consistent with the expectations set forth by the university.


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.

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 320 (100 for each exam, plus 10 for the quiz, plus 10 points for attendance). 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 = 294 points or above (92% of 320)

            B = 262 to 293.9 points (82% of 320)

            C = 230 to 261.9 points (72% of 320)

            D = 198 to 229.9 points (62% of 320)

            F = below 198 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 legal 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. Examples of legal questions I cannot answer: “I/my father/mother/sister/brother/cousin/friend got a ticket /was arrested, what can I/he/she do?” “I want to sue my landlord/my landlord just sued me, what can I do?”

Important Additional Information


A student who believes that reasonable accommodations with respect to course work or other academic requirements may be appropriate in consideration of a disability must (1) provide the required verification of the disability to the Center for Access-Ability Resources, (2) meet with the Center for Access-Ability Resources to determine appropriate accommodations, and (3) inform the faculty in charge of the academic activity of the need for accommodation. Students are encouraged to inform the faculty of their requests for accommodations as early as possible in the semester, but must make the requests in a timely enough manner for accommodations to be appropriately considered and reviewed by the university. If contacted by the faculty member, the staff of the Center for Access-Ability Resources will provide advice about accommodations that may be indicated in the particular case. Students who make requests for reasonable accommodations are expected to follow the policies and procedures of the Center for Access-Ability Resources in this process, including but not limited to the Student Handbook.

A wide range of services can be obtained by students with disabilities, including housing, transportation, adaptation of printed materials, and advocacy with faculty and staff. Students with disabilities who need such services or want more information should contact the Center for Access-Ability Resources at 815-753-1303.



The Department of Political Science recognizes, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies, such as independent studies or honors theses. Winners are expected to attend the Department's spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and a check for $50.00. No more than two papers may be submitted by a student. There is no requirement as to the length of papers submitted for the award. Often the Department awards prizes for both an outstanding short paper and an outstanding long paper. The number and types of award is dependent upon the papers submitted for consideration in any given year. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Only papers written in the previous calendar year are 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. Papers can be submitted by students or faculty and must be supplied in triplicate to the undergraduate secretary. All copies must have two cover pages - one with the student's name and one without the student's name. Papers are not to be stapled or bound. Instead, please use paper clips. Papers are generally due in March and notice of call for papers and submission deadlines will be published in the department e-announcements. You may also contact the department for information at 753-1015.

Department of Political Science Web Site

Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science website 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


1/24/11           Introduction, roll call, review of text, course requirements, and court systems

1/31/11           First Things First, The Nature and Limits of Criminal Law pp. pp. 2-45

2/07/11           Constitutional Limits on Criminal Law pp. 46-77

2/14/11           The General Principles of Criminal Liability: Actus Reus pp. 78-103

2/21/11           Criminal Liability: Mens Rea, Concurrence, Causation pp. 104-135

2/28/11           Exam #1 (LECTURE FOLLOWS EXAM!!!)

Defenses to Criminal Liability: Justifications pp. 136-171

3/07/11            Defenses to Criminal Liability: Excuses pp. 172-205

3/14/11           SPRING BREAK - NO CLASS

3/21/11           Parties to Crime and Vicarious Liability pp. 206-231

3/28/11           Inchoate Crimes: Attempt, Conspiracy and Solicitation pp. 232-271

4/04/11           Exam #2 (LECTURE FOLLOWS EXAM!!!)

                        Crimes Against Persons: Criminal Homicide pp. 272-327

4/11/11           Crimes Against Persons: Criminal Sexual Conduct & Others pp. 328-367

4/18/11           Crimes Against Property pp. 368-405

4/25/11           Crimes Against Public Order and Morals pp. 406-435

5/02/11           Crimes Against the State pp. 436-461

5/09/11           Final Exam 6:00 p.m. to 7:50 p.m.