This title is a part of our CasebookPlus™ offering as ISBN 9781634608817. Learn more at

This text, the only criminal law casebook authored by two progressive female law professors of color, provides the reader with both critical race and critical feminist theory perspectives on criminal law while following a traditional format. All of the usual subject areas are covered, but the book is unique in highlighting the cultural context of substantive criminal law.

The book seamlessly integrates issues of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation so the teacher who wishes to address such issues does not have to assign supplemental reading assignments in order to do so. The book is also very student-friendly, providing a brief doctrinal overview of the subject matter at the beginning of each chapter. The book does away with the tradition of long lists of notes and questions following the cases, a trademark feature of many older casebooks, putting this material in the Teachers Manual for the teacher to use at his or her discretion.

The forthcoming third edition is fresh and innovative, referencing several ripped from the headlines controversies, including the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman and Florida's stand your ground law, the arrest of African American Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for disorderly conduct, the shooting of Larry King, a gender nonconforming teenager, by classmate Brandon McInerney and the gay panic defense, and the repeal of North Carolina's Racial Justice Act.

For more information and additional teaching materials, visit the companion site.

Imprint: West Academic Publishing
Series: American Casebook Series
Publication Date: 05/23/2014


This title is available in our CasebookPlus format. Anchored by faculty-authored self-assessments keyed to our most popular casebooks, CasebookPlus allows students to test their understanding of core concepts as they are learning them in class.


Adopt the CasebookPlus option of your chosen text and provide your students with all the tools they need to gauge their understanding of the material—on their own, outside of the classroom, with no extra work on your part.

For faculty who wish to view their students’ quiz progress and results, we’ve added new optional customizable reporting capability that can help you evaluate your students’ understanding of the material. This feedback can also help your school demonstrate compliance with the new ABA Assessment and Learning Outcomes standards. Learn more about the reporting available to you from your Account Manager or view the course set-up instructions to get started.


Students purchasing a used book, or those who are renting their text, can still utilize all CasebookPlus digital resources by buying the digital only option.

 In Chapter 1 (Basic Principles), we added new material from the ABA Ethical Standards for the Prosecution and Defense Function, outlining the ethical duties of prosecutors and defense attorneys.  We also revised the note following People v. Williams, noting some recent developments on the jury nullification front.  For example, in the 2011 case of Williams v. Cavasoz, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a California defendant's murder conviction on the ground that her Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial was violated by the trial judge’s dismissal of a known holdout juror who had expressed reservations to fellow jurors about convicting the defendant of murder. Additionally, New Hampshire enacted legislation effective January 1, 2013, permitting defense counsel to inform jurors of their power to nullify

    In Chapter 2 (Constitutional Limitations), we added an excerpt from Frank Rudy Cooper’s 2010 article, Masculinities, Post-Racialism, and the Gates Controversy: The False Equivalence Between Officer and Civilian, to the void for vagueness section.  Cooper provides a critical masculinities analysis of the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. while pointing out how the disorderly conduct statute that formed the basis for Gates’ arrest could be the subject of a void for vagueness challenge. Following this excerpt, we added a short note on how implicit racial bias can influence police perceptions, referencing Song Richardson’s work on implicit racial bias and police stops and frisks.  We also added an excerpt from Jerry Kang, et al on the various points at which implicit racial bias can influence the various actors in the criminal justice process.  We kept all the U.S. Supreme Court cases we previously had in the section on the Eighth Amendment, but tried to edit all of these cases down to streamline the chapter, and added Graham v. Florida, a 2010 Supreme Court opinion addressing the question whether a juvenile offender can be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for a non-homicide offense.  We deleted the lower court opinions previously in this section to keep the length of the chapter manageable. We added a note following Ewing v. California, referencing the fact that in November 2012, California voters passed Proposition 36, revising California’s Three Strikes Law to impose life sentences only when the third felony conviction is “serious” or “violent.” We also added a note following McCleskey v. Kemp, referencing North Carolina’s short-lived Racial Justice Act.

    Chapter 3 (Actus Reus) remains pretty much the same as it was in the second edition.  We did a bit of reorganization, putting Martin v. State and State v. Decina together in one new section called “The Voluntary Act Requirement.”

    Chapter 4 (Mens Rea) also remains pretty much the same as it was in the previous edition with the following exceptions.  We added a note following the Jewell case on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011 decision in the civil case of Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A., noting its more robust definition of willful blindness. We decided to delete Regina v. Pembliton and reference the facts of that case in the note preceding People v. Scott.  We added a bit more information about how courts go about distinguishing between specific intent and general intent crimes to the note following People v. Atkins.

    Chapter 5 (Mistakes of Fact and Law) remains basically the same, but we revised the note on the legal wrong and moral wrong doctrines to make clear that these doctrines only apply when a defendant who is charged with a general intent crime would otherwise be found not guilty due to an honest and reasonable mistake of fact that negates the mens rea.

    Chapter 6 (Causation and Concurrence) remains basically the same, except we deleted State v. Rose, previously the last case in that chapter.

    In Chapter 7 (Homicide), we made several small improvements, such as adding information on how the states define “serious bodily injury” to footnote 4, adding kidnaping to the list of felonies typically enumerated in the first degree murder statute, and adding the word “active’ before the “euthanasia” to make clear that active, not passive, euthanasia is typically illegal.  We added a note following the Gilbert case, referencing a more recent case in which a 66-year-old man shot and killed his wife of 45 years while she lay bedridden and unable to speak in the intensive care unit of a hospital because he felt she would not have wanted to continue living this way. We updated the statistics on gender differences regarding homicide.  In the section on voluntary manslaughter and the provocation defense, we replaced the previous reference to the Matthew Shepard case with a reference to the more recent Larry King case in which a gender non-conforming teenager (Larry King) was shot and killed by his classmate, Brandon McInerney, two days before Valentine’s Day after asking the shooter to be his Valentine. We also added reference to the ABA’s recently adopted proposal, urging state legislatures to enact bans on defendant use of gay and trans panic argument.  We added reference to a fairly recent study by Stuart Kirschner, finding that men charged with murdering their female intimate partners who assert the extreme emotional disturbance defense in New York County are usually unsuccessful in having their charges reduced to manslaughter, in the note in which we discuss Victoria Nourse’s study on the extreme emotional disturbance defense.  We added a new note after the excerpt on the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, summarizing the work of Jennifer Collins on how class seems to influence which parents get prosecuted for child neglect.  We moved People v. Stamp from its previous location in the introduction to the felony murder to the section on the res gestae requirement.  We added one new case, Rose v. State, on the merger doctrine for professors who want a more straightforward explanation of the merger doctrine than People v. Smith provides.  We kept Smith in the third edition for our adopters who like teaching that case because it talks about the “independent felonious purpose” way of getting around the merger doctrine.

    The cases and materials in Chapter 8 (Sexual Offenses) remain basically the same, with the exception of People v. Samuels, which was moved to Chapter 10 (Defenses) under a new heading for the defense of consent, and the replacement of In re P. in the section on prostitution, with State v. Romano, a 2007 prostitution case that references Lawrence v. Texas.  In addition, we added some important information on victim resistance to rape to the note following Rusk v. State, namely that while authorities often encourage women to refrain from resisting a sexual assault in order to avoid physical injury, most of the research on victim resistance shows that forceful physical resistance and forceful verbal resistance are effective means of avoiding being raped. We thought this information would be useful since in Rusk, dissenting Justice Wilner mentions the risk of physical injury if a victim resists. We also added reference to I. Bennett Capers’ 2011 article on male-on-male rape, Real Rape Too, and a Pentagon study released in 2013, finding that 53 percent of unwanted sexual contact in the military in 2012 involved attacks on men, mostly by other men, to the note referencing Lynne Henderson’s article, Rape and Responsibility.  We also added material on Dan Kahan’s 2010 article, Culture, Cognition, and Consent: Who Perceives What, and Why, in Acquaintance Rape Cases (finding that in assessments of whether the complaining witness in Berkowitz consented to sexual intercourse, gender mattered less than cultural attitudes) to the note on what counts (or should count) as consent.  Following Lawrence v. Texas, we added a new note, referencing Christopher Leslie’s article, Lawrence v. Texas as the Perfect Storm and two articles by J. Kelly Strader: Resurrecting Lawrence v. Texas as a Basis for Challenging Criminal Prosecutions and Lawrence’s Criminal Law.

    In Chapter 9 (Theft Offenses), to try to keep the length of the casebook manageable, we deleted the section entitled “Beyond Theft,” which addressed mail and wire fraud and cybercrime.

    Chapter 10 (Defenses) has been revised to include reference to the 2012 shooting by George Zimmerman of Trayvon Martin and the debate over Stand Your Ground laws that ensured.  We replaced the article referencing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law by Patrik Jonsson in the previous edition with a more recent 2012 article on the Trayvon Martin shooting and Stand Your Ground laws, also by Patrik Jonsson. We revised the note on duty (or no duty) to retreat and initial aggressor rules.  We also deleted People v. Register, since it is no longer good law.  We moved some of the material on the cultural defense from the old Chapter 15 (Culture and Crime) to this chapter and deleted the excerpts on brainwashing.  We substantially edited down Clark v. Arizona, which was quite long in the second edition.

    Chapter 11 (Attempts) is basically the same.

    In Chapter 12 (Accomplice Liability), we deleted State v. Parker and Brewer v. State and added two new cases.  State v. Foster explains the dual mental states required for accomplice liability and the exception to the rule that an accomplice must have specifically intended that the crime s/he was assisting be accomplished when the mental state required for the target offense is recklessness or negligence. Roy v. United States discusses the natural and probable consequences doctrine in the accomplice liability context.  We also added new subheadings (similar to the subsections in Chapter 11 on Attempts) to provide more organizational clarity for the students.  Subsection A is entitled, “The Actus Reus Requirement,” with Pace v. State as the sole case in this section.  Subsection B is “The Mens Rea Requirement” and includes State v. Foster and Wilson v. People (the case on feigning accomplices that was in the previous edition of the casebook) since both cases explain the mental state requirement for accomplice liability.  Subsection C is “The Natural and Probable Consequences Doctrine” and includes a brief introductory note explaining the natural and probable consequences doctrine in the context of accomplice liability and Roy v. United States.

    In Chapter 13 (Conspiracy), we substantially revised the introductory text to make it clearer and more user friendly to the student reader.  We also edited several of the cases and notes in this chapter, but kept the basic structure of the chapter and all of the previous cases.

    The old Chapter 14 (Corporate Crime) has been deleted. Chapter 15 (Culture and Crime) was completely revamped. The new last chapter, Chapter 14, is now called “Crime and Punishment.” The new Chapter 14 provides background readings that may be assigned to students on trends in mass incarceration, the history of punishment practices, the criminal responsibility of juveniles, and issues in criminal lawyering, such as Gideon and the funding crisis in public defense, and new obligations of criminal defense lawyers to understand collateral consequences of criminal convictions.



Learn more about this series.