Criminal Law Research Paper Topics

Criminal law, the branch of law that defines crimes and provides for their punishment. A crime is regarded as an offense committed against the public, even though only one individual may have been wronged. The wrongdoer is prosecuted by the state for the purpose of punishment. Crimes are usually classified as treason, felony or misdemeanor with the distinction being the penalty and the power of imprisonment.

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

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

In the U.S., each state’s criminal code defines what is a crime and the punishment to be dealt for a crime. Other research paper topics in criminal law include capital punishment and mandatory sentencing.

Criminal law research

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.

Among the resources at Questia is the book, Criminal Law: The Basics, by Jonathan Herring. This book is an insightful introduction to the legal aspects of criminal acts, ranging from battery to burglary and harassment to homicide. Starting with an in-depth exploration of the very concept of crime, this book considers such questions as:

  • How should we decide what is criminal and what isn’t?
  • What is the difference between murder and manslaughter?
  • Could you ever be guilty of stealing your own property?
  • What defenses are available to those accused of crime?

The book features numerous case studies from the infamous to the bizarre and key questions for consideration throughout. Each chapter ends with lists of relevant cases, statutes and suggestions for further reading, making this an ideal starting point for anyone interested in criminal law.

According to Herring, “The criminal law with its risk of imprisonment and its condemnatory message is a particularly serious intervention in our freedom and should be used only if absolutely necessary. A slightly different reason is that it is better for people to work out for themselves what behavior they should or should not do. The criminal law in ordering people how to behave discourages people from thinking issues through for themselves.”

Criminal law blogs

In addition to the millions of resources at Questia, you may want to check out the many blogs that cover current issues in criminal law. One example is the Law Professor Blogs Network where you can find links to articles on topics in the news.

Current research topics

The National Conference on State Legislatures (NCSL) tracks ongoing criminal justice issues and provides information and analysis on topics of current interest to lawmakers and their constituents.

Some of current topics detailed at the NCSL site include:

  • Law enforcement
  • Drug crime policy
  • Mental health needs in the criminal justice system

An October 24, 2016, article addressed, “Mental Health Needs in the Criminal Justice System.”

“People who are experiencing a mental health crisis are more likely to encounter police than get medical help, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  As a result, 64 percent of jail inmates have a mental health problem, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the U.S. Department of Justice,” the article said.

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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