The Criminal Judicial System

I.     Course Prefix/Number: LAE 215

       Course Name: The Criminal Judicial System

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course covers criminal court structure of U.S.  Content includes historical development of criminal justice within the judicial branch of government, role of the criminal courts in justice system, levels of courts and roles of persons employed in this unit of criminal justice system.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Understanding of the historical development of the U.S. criminal court system.
  2. Understanding of the structure and role of federal criminal courts.
  3. Understanding of the structure and role of state and local criminal courts.
  4. Understanding of the structure and role of personnel of the criminal courts.
  5. Understanding of negotiated pleas of guilty.
  6. Understanding of the procedural aspects of criminal trials, sentencing, voir dire, appeals and pre-trial hearings.
  7. Familiarization of career opportunities.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Historical Perspectives of the Criminal Courts
  2. Crime and Criminal Law
  3. Prosecutors; defense attorneys; judges
  4. Defendants; victims; witnesses
  5. The Criminal Judicial Process: Overview
  6. Pre-trial release
  7. Plea Negotiations
  8. Trial
  9. Sentencing-Incarceration
  10. Sentence Alternatives to Incarceration
  11. Current events re: Illinois Criminal Courts

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Lecture, guest speakers, group discussions, field trips, audio-visual
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Reading/Writing/Class Report/Projects

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Textbook: America's Courts and the Criminal Justice System; David Neubauer, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Exams, Quizzes, Class Participation, Attendance, Class Report

XI.   Other Course Information

Attendance Required.

Class report: Community Service Project - Four (4) type-written pages. Report to be presented in class.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at