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Defining Crimes, Fourth Edition

  • Joseph L. Hoffmann
  • William J. Stuntz
Series / Aspen Casebook Series
Teaching Materials

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Defining Crimes, by the distinguished author team of Joseph L. Hoffmann (Indiana) and William J. Stuntz (late of Harvard), breaks from the tradition of Model Penal Code-centric casebooks and focuses instead on the rich intellectual and theoretical issues that arise from how crimes actually get defined and applied today by state and federal legislatures, trial and appellate courts, police, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and juries. The innovative approach of Defining Crimes enables the in-depth study of the problems and issues that affect the day-to-day contemporary practice of criminal law.

New to the Fourth Edition:

  • Three online chapters: Gun Crimes (formerly Chapter 8), Hate Crimes, and Crimmigration
  • New section about the crime of receiving stolen property in Chapter 5 (Property Crimes)
  • Principal case—U.S. v. Alvarez—about conspiracy in Chapter 7 (Inchoate Crimes and Accomplice Liability)
  • New section about consent in Chapter 10 (Defenses), discussing the consent defense to crimes other than rape and sexual assault
  • Notes discussing several prominent recent cases, including those involving Tamir Rice (2014), Brock Turner (2015), Amber Guyger (2018), Michael Drejka (2018), Michelle Carter (Mass. S.Ct. 2019), and George Floyd (2020)Extended excerpt from Kahler v. Kansas in Chapter 10 (Defenses), in which the Supreme Court upheld Kansas’s limited version of the insanity defense against a due process challenge, and notes about the Court’s recent decisions in Rehaif v. United States and Kelly v. United States
  • Notes discussing recent constitutional challenges to the use of criminal law against persons experiencing homelessness

Professors and students will benefit from:

  • Strong emphasis on the traditional approach to mens rea still used in the large majority of American jurisdictions—including “general intent,” “specific intent,” malice, mistake doctrine, and strict liability. The Model Penal Code is also covered, for sake of comparison and because its alternative mens rea approach is used in some jurisdictions.
  • A focus on the most commonly prosecuted crimes, including Property Crimes, Drug Crimes, and Crimes of Sex and Sexual Violence.
  • Sub-chapter on Rape is carefully designed to prompt thoughtful class discussion about acquaintance rape, intoxication, “no means no,” and “yes means yes” laws and policies.
  • Focus on the complex interactions between key institutional players—legislatures, courts, police, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and juries—that share responsibility for defining and applying crimes.
  • Text written by experienced and distinguished authors.
  • Introductory sections to explain the fundamentals of criminal law that students need to know in order to understand many of the chapters and sub-chapters.
  • Secondary materials that provide in-depth social, historical, and/or political context for many of the issues that are covered in the book.
  • A Contemporary approach, with most main cases decided since 2000, and notes that discuss cases drawn from today’s headlines.
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About the authors
Joseph L. Hoffmann
Harry Pratter Professor of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Joseph L. Hoffman is the Harry Pratter Professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

William J. Stuntz
Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law
Late of Harvard University

Late of Harvard University.

Product Information
Fourth Edition
Publication date
Copyright Year
Connected eBook with Study Center + Hardcover
Connected eBook with Study Center (Digital Only)
Criminal Law
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