Learning Objectives

As a result of reading this chapter, you will be able to

  • Explain how modern-day law evolved from English common law
  • Describe the three sources of law in the U.S. legal system
  • Identify the differences between criminal and civil law
  • Explain the difference between substantive and procedural law
  • Review two critical elements of the criminal law—criminal intent (mens rea) and the physical commission of the criminal act (actus reus)
  • Delineate the definitions of, and distinctions between, felonies and misdemeanors, crimes against persons and property, the different degrees of homicide, and offenses classified as public order, white-collar, and organized crimes
  • Discuss the various defenses that criminal defendants may use in criminal cases to reduce or eliminate their liability