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Criminal Law

Course Code: CRIM 2260
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Criminology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course is designed to give students an understanding of Canadian criminal law. The course will begin with a review of the sources of criminal law and how criminal law operates within the structure of the justice system. Students will be introduced to the role of criminal law in society through a discussion of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and recent cases. This will be followed by a thorough examination of the principles of substantive Canadian criminal law. The substantive criminal law will be explained and examined by the use of the case method. General principles of law will be discussed in the context of specific cases decided by the courts. Students will be encouraged to consider the law critically, from both an academic and societal perspective.

Course Content

  1. Introduction to Canadian Criminal Law
    • Sources of Criminal Law in Canada
    • Statutes and case law
    • Legal research and citation
    • Case briefing
    • Exclusive Federal Power to Enact Criminal Law
    • Breadth of the criminal law power
    • Regulatory Law (absolute and strict liability)
    • Review of Legal Classifications (public law, private law, substantive law, procedural law).
    • Criminal Trial Process: Crown’s Case, Case for the Defense, Court and Jury Selection
    • Proof of Crime
    • Burden of Proof
    • Standard of Proof
    • Impact of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on Criminal Law
  2. The Changing Nature of Law and Morality
    • Case studies on the development of one or more of the laws on:
      • Abortion
      • Euthanasia
      • Prostitution
      • Polygamy
      • Etc.
  3. Determining Criminal Liability
    • Actus Reus (conduct, circumstances, consequences, causation)
    • Mens Rea (subjective and objective mens rea, direct and indirect intention, relationship to motive,                 recklessness, willful blindness).
  4. Regulatory Criminal Liability
    • Absolute and Strict Liability (definitions, how statutes are classified, Charter application to offences)
  5. Modes of Participation in Crime
    • Parties to Crime
    • Accessory After the Fact
    • Inchoate Offences (counseling offences not committed, criminal attempt, conspiracy)
  6. Defenses to Crime
    • Mistake of Fact
    • Mistake of Law
    • Intoxication
    • Necessity
    • Duress
    • Provocation
    • Self-Defense
    • Consent
    • Mental Disorder
    • Automatism

Methods of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:

  • lectures
  • seminar presentations
  • audio-visual materials
  • group discussion
  • research papers
  • case briefing assignments

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy.   Evaluations will be based on course objectives and may include some of the following: exams, oral presentation, research project/term paper, case brief assignment, legal research lab.  The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.


Library Lab    5%
Case Brief Assignment           15%
Research Paper  20%
Mid-term exam  25%
Final exam  35%
Total 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Identify the constitutional and legal sources of criminal law and conduct and use legal research.
  2. Identify the relationship of criminal law to other regulatory laws.
  3. Describe the classification of criminal law in relationship to other classifications of law.
  4. Describe the criminal trial process.
  5. Discuss how and why the Charter of Rights and Freedoms impacts criminal law.  
  6. Describe the relationship between morality, societal values and criminal law.
  7. Identify the elements of crime and discuss each of these elements as described in statute and case law.
  8. Discuss various methods of criminal participation and the elements of each as outlined in statute and case law.
  9. Identify legal defenses to crime and describe the legal criteria of these defenses.
  10. Identify current issues in Canadian criminal law and related Constitutional laws.
  11. Discuss the role of the Supreme Court of Canada (S.C.C.) in criminal law.

course prerequisites

CRIM 1160

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.