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Constitutional Law & Criminal Procedure

3 Credits

This course is a part of:
Certificate Program
Associate's Degree Program
Bachelor's Degree Program

Although concepts in constitutional law do not often manifest themselves in the everyday practice of law, a basic understanding of the foundation on which our entire legal system is built is vital to a student's legal education. This course will provide our students with a general understanding of the major issues in constitutional law, including the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government; federalism and states’ rights, the concept of interstate commerce; freedom of speech (the First Amendment); substantive and procedural due process; and the equal protection clause; various areas of discrimination.

Perhaps the portions of the Constitution most relevant to the everyday practice of law are those sections of the Bill of Rights which deal with criminal procedure and litigation. Therefore, this course will especially focus on the rights of a criminal defendant. The areas to be highlighted on will include: the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by the police; the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments’ guarantees of “due process” for an alleged criminal; the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of the right to counsel along with the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona; and the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Course Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Explain the concept of separation of powers.
  • Articulate the standards the courts use in determining whether the government may make classifications that treat people differently from one another.
  • Determine whether a claim of government deprivation of civil rights is likely to succeed.
  • Differentiate between "searches" that are regulated by the Fourth Amendment and police actions that are not considered searches and are thus not restricted by the Amendment.
  • Determine whether a statement given by a suspect was in response to a proper Miranda "interrogation".
  • Determine whether a government regulation impacting religion violates the First Amendment.
  • Distinguish between government actions satisfy procedural due process requirements and those that don’t.
  • Explain what kinds of speech are and are not protected under the First Amendment.
  • Describe the significance of the Commerce Clause and the latitude it affords Congress to legislate.
  • Articulate the elements necessary for obtaining a search warrant.