KEY FEATURES • A brief introduction to the U.S. judicial system and to the public policy dimension of judicial decisions provides context for the material. • Criminal and regulatory laws are presented with contrasting views on various contemporary public policy issues, including assault weapons, hate crimes, stand your ground laws, police use of deadly force, and much more. • A question for debate and learning objectives appear at the beginning of each chapter. The debate format features contemporary topical issues that engage students and ask them to consider various points of view. • Brief essays introduce students to each debate and put the issue into context to help students understand how policy issues arise in criminal justice and law. • Summaries of the positions follow the debate sections to ensure students have a clear understanding of the contrasting arguments. • “You Decide” exercises and discussion questions appear at the end of each debate to give students the opportunity to apply what they read to new and novel situations.
Part 1: Introduction
Criminal law is simply whatever the law defines as a criminal offense and punishes with a penalty. The essence of a crime is that it is officially condemned and carries a sense of public denunciation and humiliation. We may not like that someone “cut into line” ahead of us to buy tickets, but this objectionable behavior is not defined as a crime and is not subject to official punishment. The only available remedy may be to confront the “line cutter” or to complain to management.
Where can we find the law? The English common law is the foundation of American criminal law. The origins of the common law can be traced to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The Norman king, ...