Criminal Justice | Learning Resources | Section 3.1

Criminal Justice: An Overview of the System by Adam J. McKee

Section 3.1: Sources of the Criminal Law

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Learning Resources

Learning Objectives
3.1(a) Describe the development of the common law and how it came to the United States.
3.1(b) Describe the doctrine of stare decisis and its impact on the American legal system.
3.1(c) Identify the various sources of law in America, and describe the nature of each.
3.1(d) List and describe the limits placed on criminal statutes by the Constitution of the United States.
3.1(e) Describe the origins and content of the Model Penal Code.
3.1(f) Compare and contrast civil law with criminal law.

Slide Presentations

For the Classroom:  INTRO-Section-3-1-presentation

For Printing: INTRO-Section-3-1-print

Present from the web:

Key Terms

  • Administrative Law
  • Case Law
  • Commentaries on the Laws of England
  • Common Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Cybercrime
  • Damages
  • Embezzlement
  • Felony
  • Hate Crime
  • Misdemeanor
  • Ordinary Crime
  • Organized Crime
  • Phishing
  • Precedent
  • Procedural Criminal Law
  • Reporter
  • Sir William Blackstone
  • Stare Decisis
  • Street Crime
  • Substantive Criminal Law
  • Tort
  • Visible Crime

Download a Printable Vocabulary Study Guide [PDF]: Intro_Section_3.1

In your more advanced courses and in your future career, your understanding of many technical and legal terms will be taken for granted.  It is vital that you take the time to really understand the terms presented at the end of each section of this course.  We’ve gone to great lengths to provide you with assistance in mastering this vocabulary.  Don’t forget that there is an extensive glossary that defines all of the bold terms that you will encounter in your reading.  In addition, the vocabulary for each section has been made available on a very useful website called  This site has a wide selection of flashcards for you to study, memorize, test yourself on, and more.  Cram also has a large app store so you can find other mobile flashcards for your Android, iPhone, or Windows device, allowing you to take your flashcards on the go. There are even games that add some fun to learning important terms.

Study Flashcards for this vocabulary on

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Last Updated:  04/21/2021

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