Criminal Law: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Criminal Law

2nd Edition

By Charles P. Nemeth

CRC Press

610 pages | 66 B/W Illus.

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In order to fully grasp criminal law concepts, students must go beyond mere rote memorization of the penal code and attempt to understand where the laws originate from and how they have developed. Criminal Law, Second Edition blends legal and moral reasoning in the examination of crimes and explores the history relating to jurisprudence and roots of criminal law. It fosters discussions of controversial issues and delivers abridged case law decisions that target the essence of appellate rulings.

Grounded in the model penal code, making the text national in scope, this volume examines:

  • Why the criminal codes originated, and the moral, religious, spiritual, and human influences that led to our present system
  • How crimes are described in the modern criminal justice model
  • The two essential elements necessary for criminal culpability: actus reus (the act committed or omitted) and mens rea (the mind and intent of the actor)
  • Offenses against the body resulting in death, including murder, manslaughter, felony murder, and negligent homicide
  • Nonterminal criminal conduct against the body, including robbery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault, and hate crimes
  • Sexual assault, rape, necrophilia, incest, and child molestation
  • Property offenses, such as larceny/theft, bribery, forgery, and embezzlement
  • Crimes against the home, including burglary, trespass, arson, and vandalism

The book also examines controversial public morality issues such as prostitution, drug legalization, obscenity, and pornography. The final two chapters discuss inchoate offenses, where the criminal act has not been completed, and various criminal defenses such as legal insanity, entrapment, coercion, self-defense, and mistake of fact or law.

Important keywords introduce each chapter, and discussion questions and suggested readings appear at the end of each chapter, prompting lively debate and further inquiry into a fascinating subject area that continues to evolve.

Table of Contents

The Foundation and Heritage of the Criminal Law

Introduction: The Idea of Criminal Law

The Need for Tradition and Foundation

Criminal Law and the Common Law

A Survey of Legal Tradition

The Ancient Idea of Law and Crime

Early Medieval Legal Thought

Legal Thought in the Later Middle Ages

The Turning Point toward Our Modern System

The Enlightenment to Colonial Period

Definitions of Crime

Defining Crime

Crime as a Moral and Religious Judgment

Crime as Deviance and Aberration

Crime as Severity and Grade

Classification of Offenses




Summary/Petty Offenses

Parties to Crimes



Vicarious Liability

Imputing Criminality to Corporate Action

Actus Reus and Mens Rea

Idea and Mental State in Criminal Culpability

The Nature of a Criminal Act

Actus Reus: Voluntariness and Free Choice

Actus Reus: Commission versus Omission

Defining Mens Rea

Types of Mens Rea

Specific Intent

General Intent

Strict Liability

Mens Rea and the Degrees of Knowledge

Mens Rea with Purpose

Mens Rea with Knowledge

Mens Rea with Recklessness

Mens Rea and Negligence


Crimes against the Person: Homicide

Introduction: The Nature of Homicide

Murder in the First Degree

Murder in the Second Degree


Provocation as Mitigator

Felony Murder Rule

Qualifying Felonies

Any Victim

Any Perpetrator

The Dilemma of Dual Intents

Negligent Homicide (Involuntary Manslaughter)



Crimes against the Person: Assault and Other Offenses

Introduction: Personal Offenses That Inflict Harm


The Taking


Kidnapping and Related Offenses

The Nature of Movement

The Nature of Force

False Imprisonment

Custodial Interference

Crimes Involving Bodily Injury


Simple Assault

Aggravated Assault



Other Bodily Offenses

Protection from Abuse/Domestic Abuse

Hate Crimes

Terroristic Threats

Sexual Offenses against the Person

Introduction: Sexual Offenses against the Person


The Nature of Force

The Nature of Consent

The Nature of Resistance

The Nature of Sexual Penetration

The Nature of the Marital Exemption and Its Ongoing Challenge

The Nature of Gender in Sexual Offenses

The Nature of the Victim’s Character

Statutory Rape

Sodomy/Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse


Sexual Transmission of HIV


Failure to Protect Child from Abuse

Child Molestation

Crimes against Property

Introduction: Offenses against Property


The Taking


The Property

Without License or Privilege

Special Statutory Designs in the Law of Theft

Theft of Services

Retail Theft

Auto Theft

Theft by Receiving Stolen Property

Theft by Intimidation (Extortion)

Theft by Unauthorized Disposition (Embezzlement)

Theft by Deception (Fraud)

Theft by Forgery

The Writing

Alteration, Modification or Change to a Writing

Specific Intent to Defraud


Benefit for Favor

Commercial Bribery

Crimes against Habitation



The Breaking and Entry

Time of Day

Domicile or Other Qualified Structure

The Intents of Burglary

Criminal Trespass


Intent as to License or Privilege

Qualified Structure


Motive and Intent

The Nature of Fire

The Meaning of "Structure"

Criminal Mischief


Offenses Contrary to the Public Morality

Introduction: The Intersection of Law and Morality


Drugs and Controlled Substances

Legalization as Solution

Special Response: Drug Courts

Bigamy and Polygamy


The Nature of Obscenity

The Value and Quality of the Expression

Community Standard of Obscenity

Driving under the Influence/Driving While Intoxicated

Proof of DUI/DWI

Elements of the Offense

Inchoate Offenses

Introduction: The Nature of an Inchoate Offense


Criminal Attempts

Type of Intent

Overt or Substantial Step

Capacity and Impossibility


The Agreement

The Overt Act

Special Case: RICO

Criminal Defenses

Introduction: Defending Criminal Actions

Criminal Defenses: Defense of Self and Property

Self-Defense/Defense of Others

Defense of Others

Defense of Property

Legal Insanity

Three Tests of Insanity

Guilty But Mentally Ill



Mistake/Ignorance of Law

Mistake/Ignorance of Fact


Implied Consent



About the Author

Dr. Nemeth has spent the vast majority of his professional life in the study and practice of law and justice. A recognized expert on ethics and the legal system, appellate legal practice and private-sector justice, he also is a prolific writer, having published numerous texts and articles on law and justice throughout his impressive career. He has been an educator for more than 30 years. He holds memberships in the New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania bars. Dr. Nemeth is soon to be Chair and Professor of Security, Fire and Emergency Services at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He is a much-sought-after legal consultant for security companies and a recognized scholar on issues involving law and morality.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Criminal Law / General