Research paper topics on criminal law

The penal code classifies crimes as treason, felony or misdemeanor. The fundamental distinction between felonies and misdemeanors rests with the penalty and the power of imprisonment. Some offenses, such a murder, may be subject to capital punishment, also known as the death penalty. Other offenses, such as drug cases, are subject to mandatory sentencing rules.

Learn more about criminal law for your research paper. (Credit: TSP Law)

Learn more about criminal law for your research paper. (Credit: TSP Law)

What constitutes a crime and the question of punishments encompasses many possible research paper topics.

Criminal law

The structure of law is separated into two broad divisions: civil and criminal law.

  • Civil Law– individual or organizational dispute between two parties in which compensation is warranted to the deserving party
  • Criminal Law– deals with crime and legal offense with the possibility of legal punishment by government legislation

The body of criminal law has evolved over the years. According to, “What is Criminal Law?” court decisions create rulings that are binding precedent to be applied to similar cases in the future.

Law enforcement agencies carry out criminal investigations and must follow procedural rules. These rules have been put into place in order to protect the constitutional rights of the citizens under investigation.

“Criminal defense attorneys are trained to prevent their clients from doing or saying things that will increase the likelihood of conviction. But when legal counsel has not been hired or appointed, accused individuals can unknowingly waive their rights and harm their own interests,” the article said.

Research paper topics in criminal law

To sift through the many possible topics related to criminal law, head over to You’ll find here many research paper tools starting with the Questia Topic Generator where you’ll get help in selecting the perfect topic for your research papers.

Criminal law topics include:

  • Capital punishment
  • Double jeopardy
  • Drug courts
  • Jury selection

Among the resources at Questia is the book, The Handbook of Comparative Criminal Law, by Kevin Jon Heller and Markus D. Dubber.

This key reference covers all of the world’s major legal systems – common, civil, Asian and Islamic law traditions – with essays on 16 countries on six different continents. The introduction places each country within traditional distinctions among legal systems and explores noteworthy similarities and differences among the countries covered, providing an ideal entry into the fascinating range of criminal law systems in use over the world.

Modern American codes typically follow Model Penal Code section 2.02(1) in providing that “a person is not guilty of an offense unless he acted purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently, as the law may require, with respect to each material element of the offense.” This provision reflects the criminal law’s commitment to requiring not only a breach of society’s objective rules of conduct but also a defendant’s culpability with regard to the conditions that make the conduct a breach.

“A person acts ‘recklessly’ with respect to a result if he or she consciously disregards a substantial risk that his or her conduct will cause the result; he or she acts only ‘negligently’ if he or she is unaware of the substantial risk but should have perceived it. The recklessness issue focuses not on whether he or she should have been aware of the risk, but instead on whether he or she was, in fact, aware (and whether it was culpable for him or her to disregard the risk),” Heller and Dubber explained.

More criminal law resources

Other resources for topics and information on criminal law include:

  • LawInfo Legal Resource Library
  • Justia
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Your state bar association website
  • FindLaw
  • Legal Encyclopedia

Explore hundreds of subjects related to law at Questia.

What is your favorite subject related to criminal law? Tell us in the comments.

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