Principles of Criminal Law was first published in 1992. More than eighteen years later, the fifth edition is published. Harvey Wallace was the coauthor of the first four editions. Harvey died in 2007. Harvey and I were close friends and fellow Marines. We wrote ten books together over a sixteen-year period.
In a continuing effort to improve each edition, we have consulted with our colleagues, professionals in the field, and students who have used it as a learning vehicle. Most reviewers suggested leaving the majority of the text the same—if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. However, we have received other feedback that included recommendations for improvement, most of which have been incorporated into the fifth edition. New topics added to this edition are discussed later.
The study of substantive criminal law is actually a study of human behavior. It is more than a study of specific crimes; it is also an examination of the rules of human behavior and criminal responsibility. Criminal law is based on moral values, and many of our crimes are also violations of our moral standards. The study of criminal law is controversial and exciting. For example, what subject is more controversial than the issue of whether abortion is the exercise of a woman’s right to privacy or simply murder? As with many other criminal law issues, the answer to that question depends on one’s values and beliefs. As for being exciting, notice how many of our movies and television programs are based on criminal behavior (e.g., Law and Order and CSI ).
An important but seldom mentioned function of criminal law for social scientists is to define the subject matter of criminology. Criminology is the sociological and psychological study of the causes of crime, the control of crime, and the reasons for crime. Accordingly, defining certain acts as criminal and others as noncriminal directly affects the subject matter of criminology. As a comedian once stated, the only way to eliminate crime is to abolish our criminal laws—then there could be no crime. Too often, books on general criminal law devote a considerable portion of the text to comparing majority and minority positions on specific issues. The result is that most readers are confused and lack a general understanding of settled concepts. For the most part, we have presented the prevailing positions with only an occasional reference to the majority–minority conflicts.
This book is designed as an introductory text on criminal law and not as a research book. Accordingly, to reduce its size and enhance its readability, endnotes are used sparingly in chapters involving noncontroversial subjects. The text presents basic concepts or principles of criminal law in definitions, focus boxes, and practicums. All of these features are designed to assist the student in understanding this often confusing area of the law.
We have chosen to present this material in a narrative form rather than approach it from a traditional law school casebook perspective. While we believe both techniques may be used to teach criminal law, our goal is to present a clear, concise text that discusses background information necessary to understand the principles involved in criminal law and sets forth the elements of the major crimes.
The fifth edition contains several significant changes. Those changes include
• Each chapter starts with a list of what you should know after you reading the chapter.
• A new section on terrorism has been added.
• The discussion on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) has been expanded
• A section on home invasion robbery has been added.
• The key words section of each chapter has been expanded.
• The section on counterfeiting has been rewritten in an effort to increase student understanding of the issues involved.
• A discussion on assisted suicide has been added.
• New discussions on the crimes of incest, bigamy, and polygamy were added.
• In most chapters, a student exercise “How would you rule?” has been added.
• Cases and legislation have been updated where appropriate.
Comments, corrections, or suggestions for improvement of the text should be forwarded to Cliff Roberson at [email protected] Enjoy the fascinating world of criminal law..