Course number: LAW 1140
This course is intended to introduce students to the basic procedural and doctrinal concepts and frameworks of Canadian criminal law. The course begins with an overview of several basic concepts, including: the sources of criminal law, principles of statutory interpretation, and the limits of Canadian criminal jurisdiction. The course analyzes principles of actus reus (the wrongful act) and mens rea (the guilty state of mind) and their role in defining the essential elements of criminal offences. A number of specific criminal offences are examined in connection with these components. These include homicide and sexual assault-related offences. The course provides an overview of excuses and defences to criminal charges and the various elements that constitute them. The course then shifts toward examining the powers of law enforcement officials while investigating crimes – particularly interrogations and confessions. As part of this examination, we will study how the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the common law governs the admission of evidence procured by law enforcement officials.
Lectures focused on the assigned readings combined with class discussion and active problem-based learning. In addition, time will be reserved for seminars and student presentations. On occasion, video capsules will be used for certain topic areas.
Proposed Assessment (Subject to Approval by Academic Affairs and Law Faculty Council)
Your overall grade for the course will be comprised of these components:
- Fall Exam: Optional Fail Safe Take Home Mid-term (0 or 20%) examination worth twenty percent of your overall grade. DUE DURING FINAL EXAMS by 11:59PM on the due date. Only counts if the grade exceeds the grade on the Final Exam.
- Winter Take Home Final examination: (50 or 70%) worth at least fifty percent of your overall grade. The exam is worth seventy percent if you don’t do the midterm or if your midterm score is lower than your final. TBA WINTER
- Fall or Winter: One in Class Case Presentations (10 %) (Ten percent of your grade, groups of 2-4) with a set of summarized case briefs to be posted on UMLearn for the class. Students are expected to present a series of cases or larger case to the class and to submit case briefs of those cases for posting to UMLearn for the class to read. Your grade will be based on the quality of your briefs but you must present in class to earn the grade. If you are unable to present in class you may make a YouTube or Vimeo ready presentation of your cases using your computer. In any case, these presentations should be no more than 15 minutes.
- Winter: One in Class Seminar Presentation (20%) of 75 minutes in length, in response to Seminar assignments posted on UMLearn (twenty percent of your grade, groups of 4-5). Students are expected to answer assigned seminar questions and to lead the class in a group 75 minute seminar on selected topic areas in the Winter term. Students must submit answers to the questions assigned for posting on UMLearn. Students will lead the entire weekly session.
- Bonus Marks Opportunities (up to 5 percent): Any student who submits five submissions of about 1000 words each to Robsoncrim.com legal blawg site is similarly entitled to a five percent bonus or one percent bonus per blawg up to five percent. Blawgs must be submitted by the last day of class in the Winter, by 11:59PM of that day
Required Cases: Over 100 Cases are posted on UMLearn for reading throughout the year. In many cases the full case is posted along with headnotes.
Required Textbook: Simon Verdun-Jones. Criminal Law in Canada Cases, Questions, and the Code. Latest Edition. Nelson.
Required Reader: Jochelson, Richard, Kirsten Kramar and Mark Doerksen. 2014. The Disappearance of Criminal Law: Police Powers and the Supreme Court. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.
Recommended Textbook: Kent Roach, Criminal Law. Latest Edition. Irwin Law (copy available in the library).
Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46 available online at:
Additional assigned readings will be available online through www.canlii.org, Westlaw, or through electronic copies that I will be uploading onto UMLearn.