Key principles of criminal law have been engrained in our society since the framers of the U.S. Constitution made access to criminal defense a fundamental right. This concentration gives you a firm grounding in the theory and procedure of criminal law and explores the nuances of criminal activity, including white-collar financial crimes, human trafficking and cybercrime.
You’ll develop cutting-edge trial skills, such as the innovative use of visual persuasion techniques in the courtroom, and you’ll examine ethical issues unique to criminal practice settings. You’ll also develop and refine your ability to engage in both prosecution and defense work at the trial and appellate levels by advocating for real clients in our law clinics.
Your negotiation and litigation skills are honed through mock trials and courtroom simulations, and every year we host the Northeast Regional Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition. Plus, our externship program offers you the opportunity to shadow prosecutors, defense attorneys or judges to experience the system in action. And our active Criminal Law Society sponsors several networking events and activities focused on helping you connect with legal professionals.
Curriculum and Requirements
Students who earn the certificate for this concentration encounter a variety of experiences to help develop an understanding of criminal law and procedure in both a theoretical and practical context. They will explore both the substantive criminal law as well as the constitutional overlay of criminal procedure. Additionally, they will experience aspects of criminal trial and motion work. Development focuses on advocacy skills: litigation, negotiation and other alternate dispute resolution methods that apply in a criminal context.
In order to be eligible for the criminal law and advocacy concentration, you must take Evidence as one of your core electives. Credits for this course do not count toward the 21-credit concentration requirement, but the grade in this prerequisite does count toward the concentration GPA requirement in determining whether or not the certificate is awarded with honors. All students must also successfully complete the required course of Criminal Law.
To receive the certificate for this concentration, you must earn 21 criminal law and advocacy specialty credits, divided as follows (note that not all courses are offered every year):
You must earn at least 3 credits through participation in the following programs. No more than 6 clinical credits count toward the 21-credit requirement for the concentration, except with the permission of the concentration director.
The credit allotted to course work in conjunction with a clinic will count as a course credit, not as a clinic credit.
- The Defense Appellate Clinic (6 credits)
- The Prosecution Appellate Clinic (6 credits)
- An externship placement at a site dedicated to criminal defense or prosecution (3-6 credits), or
- A judicial externship placement in a court at which the director can certify has a significant criminal docket (3-6 credits)
Required Course Work
In addition to Evidence (credits for which do not count toward the 21-credit requirement), you must take the following courses. Credits for these courses will count toward your 21-credit concentration requirement.
- Criminal Procedure - The Investigative Process (2-4 credits)
- Criminal Procedure - The Adjudicative Process (3-4 credits)
- Trial Practice (2-3 credits) and
- One of the following: Alternative Dispute Resolution (2-3 credits) or Negotiation (2-3 credits)
The remaining credits needed to satisfy the requirements for this concentration should come from the following designated courses:
- Alternate Dispute Resolution interscholastic competitions (but not intramural) may count if the director finds there is a substantive criminal law and/or criminal procedure component. The participation must be connected to the legal questions in roles such as advocate, problem drafter, etc. The efforts of organizers, coaches, and schedulers, while extremely important, are not eligible for credit. (1-3 credits)
- Computer Crime: Definitions, Investigations, Prosecution and Defense (2-3 credits)
- Connecticut Criminal Procedure
- Constitutional Law (Advanced): The Original Understanding of the Bill of Rights (4 credits)
- Counterterrorism Law (2-3 credits)
- Domestic Violence
- Ethics and the Criminal Justice System (2-3 credits)
- Federal Criminal Law (2-3 credits)
- Habeas Corpus
- Independent Research devoted to criminal law and/or criminal procedure topics approved by the director (2-3 credits)
- International Criminal Law (2-3 credits)
- International Human Rights (2-3 credits)
- Introduction to Representing Clients (2 credits)
- Juvenile Law (2-3 credits)
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Law and Forensic Science (2 credits)
- Major Felonies
- Mock trial interscholastic competitions (but not intramural) may count if the director finds there is a substantial criminal law and/or criminal procedure component. The participation must be connected to the legal questions in roles such as litigator, problem drafter etc. The efforts of organizers, coaches and schedulers, while extremely important, are not eligible for credit. (1-3 credits); Participation in the legal aspects - i.e. litigator, problem drafter - of the Quinnipiac University School of Law Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition will count.) (1-3 credits)
- Moot Court interscholastic competitions (but not intramural) may count if the director finds there is a substantial criminal law and/or criminal procedure component. The participation must be connected to the legal questions in roles such as litigator, problem drafter etc. The efforts of organizers, coaches, schedulers — while extremely important — are not eligible for credit. (1-3 credits)
- State Constitutional Law (2-3 credits)
- Theories of Punishment (2 credits)
- Trial Practice (Advanced) (2 credits)
- Trial Practice (Mock Trial) and/or
- Visual Persuasion and the Law (3 credits).
You must write a substantial paper (or a series of shorter writings that taken together comprise a substantial amount of written work) on a topic or topics related to Criminal Law or Procedure. (If you write a substantial paper, you may use that paper to satisfy the law school's advanced writing requirement, as set forth in the academic catalog, as well as the criminal law and advocacy certification program.)
A paper written for a journal may qualify if the topic is approved by the concentration director. A brief written for a moot court competition or within an externship position may qualify if the student can attest that the work was their own.
The topic and the format for the written work used to satisfy this requirement must be approved by the concentration director. NOTE: It is possible for completed work to count for more than one concentration if there is sufficient coverage of both subject matters.
Students who achieve a GPA of 3.2 or better in the course work used for the concentration will receive certificate for the concentration with honors.
If you have credits in excess of the required number: You may designate any course or paper as not counting toward the concentration, so long as it is not required for the concentration, and you meet the concentration requirements with another course. If you have more than 21 credits, the concentration director will count the courses with the highest grades in determining whether or not to bestow the honors designation.
The concentration director and the associate dean for academic affairs may waive any requirement for the concentration (other than the GPA requirement), if they both agree to do so.