Intro to Criminal Law

From: $90.00 / month for 5 months

Grades: 11th-12th

Class : Thu 2:30–3:30 p.m. ET

Dates (2nd Sem):  Jan 13–May 9, 2025

Prepaid:   $399

Instructor:  George Sheehan

See Reviews of Instructor George Sheehan


Course Description

Sample Course Syllabus coming soon

This is a one-semester course intended for students interested in understanding just what the term “criminal justice” means, and how our system is designed to achieve it.  The course will examine the historical development of criminal law in the United States, and the various categories of crime, i.e., crimes against the person, crimes against property, and inchoate crimes (attempt, conspiracy, etc.).  Students will be introduced to the legal concepts of actus reus (act) and mens rea (state of mind), constitutional implications, the principal elements of criminal procedure, and defenses.  Students will also have opportunities for exploration of particular criminal cases of historical interest.  While foundational knowledge is the starting point of the course, students will be encouraged to question, examine, and debate current issues in the law such as cash bail, mandatory minimum sentences,  and the impact of economic inequities on the “fair” administration of justice, and issues which the students bring to the table.  Students with a special interest in a particular issue will have an opportunity for guided research.

While the course is foundational, the following are the student-centered goals:

  • Students will discuss and be able to write about the sources and development of the criminal justice system
  • Students will understand how the criminal law both reflects  and contributes to societal norms
  • Students will understand the basics of criminal procedure and the safeguards built into those procedures
  • Students will understand how the U.S. Constitution has direct and indirect influence on the criminal law
  • Students will understand the interrelation of the federal and state criminal systems

Students need to be able to attend the live classes.  Some assessments will be conducted live.  More importantly, respectful interaction among the students will help them to learn from one another, and most importantly, make the time of the live classes fly by!

Course Structure

The weekly live classes will vary from week to week.  There will necessarily be some lectures with notes, but that will compete with class discussion time. In addition to the live class, students should expect to invest 4 hours per week in reading assignments from the texts, or resources or videos posted to Canvas.  Students will be assessed with periodic quizzes, short answers or multiple choice assignments, and short essays keyed to specific reading passages. Students will also be assessed on the degree to which they participate in discussions with their classmates. 

Who should enroll?

The class is designed for students in 11th and 12th grades who can attend the weekly live classes, work independently, be respectful of the views of their classmates, and are anxious to learn how the criminal justice system operates.  Some of the reading will be challenging because of legal jargon, but I will do my best to decipher it in advance.   

Technology Requirements

  • High speed, broadband internet
  • Web cam, sound card and microphone
  • Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures

Evaluation and Feedback

Students are encouraged to seek additional video time with me for help with concepts, understanding assignments, or other academic issues.  It is simply a matter of coordinating schedules. Email is the best means of communication with me, and I will respond promptly, almost always on the same day.

Grades are a form of feedback and will be posted promptly; posting on Canvas will also be a source of feedback.

Parents are an invaluable part of the educational process and have ready access to me to discuss any question about their student’s progress.  Any parent wishing to discuss the class before registration may do so by emailing


Email is the best means to communicate with me, and it will be answered almost always the same day.

Required Texts

Text is TBD but most materials will be provided by the instructor.


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Instructor Bio

George Sheehan

George Sheehan has been teaching for twenty years after practicing law for twenty years. He graduated from Villanova University with a B.A. Honors-Arts, cum laude, before obtaining his J.D. from Villanova Law School. In his first career he was a busy trial attorney, before finding his true calling as a teacher. In his courses Introduction to the Legal System and Criminal Law, he is able to merge his long experience in both careers into stimulating student-centered explorations of important and timely elements of American society. Contact: gsheehan[at]

All classes taught by George Sheehan