Welcome to Professor John Inazu’s Spring 2019 Criminal Law course. This course provides an introduction to the rules and principles of basic criminal law.

This class meets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10:38 - 11:50 am in AB 401.

You can find our syllabus immediately below. The class schedule (including reading assignments) is included on this site.  You can schedule office hours with me via this link. Students enrolled in this course should have received instructions about our first meeting and a brief information survey—please email me if you did not receive these.



1. Learn the statutes and cases that constrain and shape the criminal law.

2. Gain a basic understanding of the theory and policy underlying the criminal law.

3. Develop an ability to interpret statutory provisions.



We have three principal texts for this course:

1. Joshua Dressler, Understanding Criminal Law (Eighth Edition).

2. A course supplement.

3. This website, which includes summaries and review questions for each unit. The summaries are intended to give you a helpful overview of the core topics that we cover in each unit. You should outline answers to the review questions before each class.

The course supplement and some of the review questions are based upon materials in Joshua Dressler, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law (Fifth Edition).


Attendance and Class Participation

I expect you to be prepared, present, and on time for class. If you are unable to attend class on a given day (or are unprepared but would still like to attend class), you will need to email me (and copy my assistant, Rachel Mance) in advance of class. Emailing me in advance of class will result in being marked for one absence (and if you are in attendance, I won’t call on you). Absent extreme extenuating circumstances, failing to email me in advance of a class for which you are absent or in which you demonstrate clear lack of preparedness will result in being marked for two absences. You may have up to four absences for any reason. (This means four absences with advance notice to me, two unexcused absences, or some combination of the preceding.) Absent extraordinary circumstances, more than four absences may adversely affect your final grade.

We will not have class on Jan 28, Jan 31, or Feb 14.

We have makeup classes scheduled in AB 401 from 12:08 - 2:00 pm on Friday, Feb 8, and Friday, April 5.  Please mark those dates on your calendars to ensure your availability. The regular attendance policies apply to these makeup classes.

We will have a special class on Mar 6. This class will meet in small groups throughout the day, and some groups may also meet on Tuesday, Mar 5.  You will be able to select a time slot later in the semester.

We will have an optional review session in AB 401 from 2-4 on Apr 20.


Small Groups

This class will include regular interaction with your classmates. During some of our class sessions, we will break into assigned small groups, in which you will spend 10-15 minutes discussing the readings or a problem that I give to you.

The purpose of these groups is threefold. First, they encourage active participation by more members of the class than the Socratic method allows. Second, they serve as an accountability check to ensure that you engage with the readings before class. Finally, they allow you to practice discussing ideas and making points to a small group of people under a compressed time frame (these are lawyer skills).


Courthouse Visit

Each of you will need to visit and observe activities in a local (non-federal) criminal courtroom at some point during the semester. You may go in groups or individually, and you may choose any local courthouse that you’d like (St. Louis or a surrounding county or municipality). You should sit in the courtroom for at least thirty minutes. Be sure that you find a criminal (not a civil) proceeding. Prior visits or visits to a courthouse outside the St. Louis area will not satisfy this requirement.

At the conclusion of your visit, you should send me a one-page memo letting me know where you went and describing your experience. You should send the memo as an email attachment and copy Rachel Mance on your email to me to receive credit for your visit. (Rachel will confirm receipt of your email). Your memos are due to me no later than one week before the last class of the semester. Your memo should conform to my writing guidelines.


Exam and Course Grade

Your course grade will be determined by: (1) your class participation; and (2) a four-hour, in-class, open book final exam.

I will base your class participation component on my evaluation of your interactions, preparedness, and thoughtfulness. Excellent class participation may improve your overall course grade. Poor participation (including excessive absences) may lower your overall course grade. Failure to complete the courthouse visit will lower your overall course grade.


Computer and Phone Use

Laptop computers are not permitted in class unless you have an approved medical exception.

You may not use your phones during our class for any reason.  This includes discrete and not-so-discrete efforts to check texts or emails during class.

You are not permitted to record our classes. If you have an extenuating circumstance that requires you to miss multiple classes, please ask me in advance about having the law school record classes.

Students who violate the computer or phone use policy may have their semester grades lowered.


I do not have set office hours, but I am available to meet throughout the semester. Please schedule appointments through this site. If you are unable to find a time online that works with your schedule, you can email me to set up a time.

Feel free to email me with any questions or concerns. I will make every effort to respond to your emails within one day of your having sent them, with the exception of emails sent over the weekend or holidays, which I will answer by the following business day. If I think that the entire class may benefit from the answer to your question, I will answer in class. Please accept the classroom discussion in lieu of a personalized response.

Course Assistants

Two of my research assistants who took this class during their first year are available to meet to discuss general course questions. Email George or Andrea to set up an appointment. Please note that George and Andrea are not teaching assistants, and they may not be available to answer detailed questions about the course content. Additionally, my exam format will likely be different than in past years, so with respect to the exam, you should not overly rely on advice they offer from their own experience in the class.

Those of you who are international students will have Ethan as your teaching assistant. Ethan will offer weekly sessions to review course material with you and answer questions that you may have. He is also available to meet my appointment. Non-international students are welcome to attend Ethan’s general sessions, but you will likely find them of limited value.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have included on this site my answers to frequently asked questions. Please review them carefully.