Criminal Law

Criminal Law

Miami Law has an array of courses, faculty, clinics and organizations to help prepare students to work in some aspect of criminal law in government, the non-profit sector, corporations or private practice.

Why Study Criminal Law in Your First Year?

All students receive an immediate grounding in their first year by studying Criminal Procedure and how the Constitution and criminal justice system regulate government investigation of crime. The other basic course in the area, Substantive Criminal Law, is offered as an elective to both first-year and upper-level students.

Once students have a basic grounding, Miami Law offers a wide range of courses from seminars that bring students into contact with leading criminal law scholars across the country to clinics where students become involved in helping represent defendants facing wrongful conviction.

Students can further immerse themselves in criminal justice law, policy, and practice through taking seminars that bring students into contact with leading criminal law scholars across the country to participating in clinics, lectures, and student groups.

Miami Law Curriculum


    Core Courses

    • Criminal Procedure
    • Criminal Prosecution and Defense Lawyering: Situational Ethics in the Adversial System of Justice
    • Substantive Criminal Law

    Relative Courses

    • Administrative Law
    • Advanced Criminal Evidence Workshop
    • Immigration Clinic
    • Innocence Clinic
    • Migration and Immigration Policy and Law Reform
    • International Criminal Law
    • Removal and Asylum
    • Human Trafficking

    Specialized Courses, Seminars

    • Advanced Moot Court
    • Criminal Procedure Adjudication
    • Comparative Criminal Justice
    • Florida Criminal Procedure
    • Criminal Justice Policy Reform Seminar
    • Litigation Skills I - Criminal
    • Litigation Skills II - Advanced Criminal
    • Images of Evil in Criminal Law
    • The Criminalization of Homeless


    Criminal Justice Policy Reform Practicum: Students work with organizations addressing aspects of criminal justice reform.

    Death Penalty Practicum: Students work on aspects of case preparation: client, witnesss interviews; depositions; motions practice; and plea negotiations. 

    Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Practicum: Students work for CCRI (more below on CCRI).

    Civil Rights Practicum:Students are generally assigned to work on an actual cases or projects with civil rights organizations, lawyers, agencies, or legislators. 

    What Does it Mean to Practice Criminal Law?

    In this recorded session for prospective law students, Professor Mary Anne Franks discusses the basics of criminal law.

    Faculty Experts

    The faculty teaching in the criminal law area has published articles and books on a diverse array of topics. One professor has devoted twenty years to the Capital Jury Project and the Project's effort to decipher the inner workings of juries. Another professor is engaging in empirical research that digs down past myths and assumptions surrounding sex offenders as a way to understand the realities of sex offenders.

    Some of our faculty members have been prosecutors, others have been criminal defense attorneys, and others have worked for both the government and the defense. Full-Time Faculty With Criminal Law Expertise:

    • Ricardo J. Bascuas: Evidence, criminal procedure, international criminal law
    • Donna K. Coker: Criminal law, gender and inequality
    • Mary Anne Franks: Criminal law, criminal procedure, discrimination, free speech, cyberlaw, law and gender
    • Donald M. Jones: Criminal procedure, constitutional law, employment discrimination
    • Tamara Rice Lave: Criminal law, criminal procedure, ethics, punishment, sex offender legislation
    • Martha R. Mahoney: Criminal law, race and urban development, public interest law, property and land use
    • Scott E. Sundby: Criminal law, criminal procedure, constitutional law
    • Craig Trocino: Practitioner in Residence & Director, Innocence Clinic

    Experiential Opportunities

      Litigation Skills Program and Externship 

      Students have abundant opportunities for part-time work during the school year or full-time work during the summer in the field of criminal justice. Miami Law has externship opportunities run through the Litigation Skills Program and through the Career Development Office.

      For students interested in the courtroom aspect of Criminal Law, the acclaimed Litigation Skills Program -- Lit Skills I (Criminal) and Lit Skills II (Advanced Criminal) -- offers students rigorous, hands-on litigation training.

      • Prepare for trial by writing trial briefs and preparing witnesses
      • Learn to litigate a case from start to finish
      • Gain invaluable courtroom experience
      • Can be awarded prizes and scholarships
      • Are taught by experienced trial lawyers and judges

      How the program is unique:

      • 60 percent of second and third year law students enroll in this six-credit course.
      • Graduates of the course are placed in a 6-credit externship program and are certified by the Supreme Court of Florida to engage in the supervised practice of law.
      • It is open to all students and includes far more hours in litigation skills than at most law schools.

      The Litigation Skills Externship Program provides students with a wide variety of hands-on professional opportunities.

       List of Past Placements

      U.S. Patent and Trademark OfficePast national placements have included:

      • U.S. Department of Justice
      • IRS
      • State Attorney CT, MA
      • Public Defender CA, OH, RI, MD, CT
      • District Attorney TX, MA, NY

      Past international placements have included:

      • The United Nations in Dominican Republic
      • Guardian Ad Litem in Tanzania

      Local placements often include:

      • State Attorney's Office
      • Public Defender's Office
      • Office of the US Attorney
      • Department of Homeland Security
      • Office of the Attorney General
      • Office of the Federal Public Defender
      • Consumer Advocates Office
      • Securities and Exchange Commission

      Career Development Office (CDO) Externship Program

      The CDO Externship Program allows students to obtain academic credit while working in a real world legal setting. Below is a sampling of externships that students with an interest in criminal law have pursued as part of this program:

      • 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, Domestic Violence Division
      • Collier County Public Defender's Office
      • Cook County Defender's Office
      • County of Carroll District Attorney's Office
      • Florida Legal Services, Inc.
      • Florida Office of the Attorney General, Office of Statewide Prosecution
      • Kansas Attorney General's Office
      • Kent County Prosecutor's Office
      • Law Offices of the Public Defender , 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida
      • Legal Aid Society (of Dade County Bar Association and Palm Beach County)
      • Legal Services of Greater Miami
      • Miami- Dade State Attorney's Office
      • Monroe County, County Attorney's Office
      • Nassau Coalition Against Domestic Violence
      • Office of the Public Defender, 17th Judicial Circuit of Florida
      • Office of the State Attorney, (9th, 15th and 17th Judicial Circuit of Florida)
      • State of Maryland , Office of the Public Defender
      • The North Carolina Department of Justice
      • The Office of the Federal Public Defender of the Southern District of Florida
      • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
      • United States District Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida
      • Wayne County Prosecutor's Office


      Students who participate in any of the Law School's clinics have the opportunity to work on cases that expose them to a wide variety of legal, ethical, strategic, and public policy issues that arise in the practice of criminal law.  Hear about experiences in clinics on YouTube.

      • Bankruptcy Assistance Clinic
      • Children & Youth Law Clinic
      • Environmental Justice Clinic
      • Health Rights Clinic
      • Human Rights Clinic
      • Immigration Clinic
      • Innocence Clinic
      • Investor Rights Clinic
      • Tenants' Rights Clinic

      Student-Led Opportunities

      Criminal Law Society
      The Charles C. Papy, Jr. Moot Court Board
      HOPE Advocacy Projects

      Cyber Civil Rights Initiative - CCRI

      The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) in August 2012 as the End Revenge Porn campaign, which called for the criminalization of nonconsensual pornography, the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. CCRI has its home at Miami Law and the Initiative offers opportunities for law students and other university students eager to apply their professional skills to a cutting-edge issue with real-world implications.