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Providing the undergraduate criminal law course with a nationally acclaimed blend of analysis and illustrative cases, Joel Samaha's CRIMINAL LAW has been the textbook of choice among instructors for more than 30 years. Praised for his clear, concise, and engaging writing style, Samaha presents criminal law using a combined text/casebook approach that features methodical, careful explanations of traditional law categories as well as classic and contemporary cases. Packed with the latest topics and cases -- and accompanied by powerful teaching and learning resources, including the MindTap® online learning platform -- the Twelfth Edition is even more effective in helping students understand and think analytically about the underlying principles and policies that specific cases illustrate.

Joel Samaha, University of Minnesota

Joel Samaha is University Distinguished Teaching Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, where he teaches Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. He received his B.A. (History), J.D., and Ph.D. (History) from Northwestern University and studied under Sir Geoffrey Elton at Cambridge University, England. Professor Samaha was admitted to the Illinois Bar, briefly practiced law in Chicago, and then taught at UCLA. In 1971, he joined the University of Minnesota, where he served as Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice Studies for four years, taught television and radio courses in criminal justice, co-taught a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar in legal and constitutional history, was named College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Teacher in 1974, and named University Distinguished Teaching Professor in 2007. Professor Samaha's works have appeared in Historical Journal, American Journal of Legal History, Minnesota Law Review, William Mitchell Law Review, and Journal of Social History.
  • Updated case coverage includes discussion of, to name a few: State v. Newman (2013), "sleep driving"; Williams v. State (2013), possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; Commonwealth v. Johnson (2014), cyber-harassment and free speech; Woolard v. Gallagher (2013), right to bear arms and "good and substantial reason to carry gun requirement"; Myers III v. State (2015), criminogenic "invisible wounds" and PTSD affected by multiple combat tours in the Afghanistan/Iraq wars; and Gonzalez v. Carhart (2007), whether late term abortions are murder.
  • Every chapter begins with a new chapter-opening vignette that draws students into the material by spotlighting a high-profile topic illustrative of a criminal law or criminal defense issue. Students read about the Woman's Right to Know act, which requires a physician to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion (Ch. 2); a couple accused of starving to death a man who paid the couple to take care of him (Ch. 3); and Peggy Stewart, who shot her abusive husband after becoming especially fearful for her life when she found a loaded gun in her home (Ch. 5).
  • MindTap for Criminal Law, 12th Edition has met the Quality Matters Review Standards and is Quality Matters Certified. For more information, visit
  • A new "You Decide" boxed feature in most chapters develops critical thinking skills by looking at cases that push the boundaries of existing criminal law. For example, "Did he kill during diabetic insulin shock?" pushes the definition of the "voluntary act" requirement (State v. Moore, 2013), and "Should cyberbullying be a crime?" asks whether the criminal law is the best tool to respond to this current issue.
  • A new "Criminal Law in Focus" feature in most chapters expands on key concepts and issues raised in the chapter. For example, "Model Penal Code Levels of Culpability" lays out definitions that students need to know in almost every chapter of the book. "Reasonableness and the Battered Woman" expands the boundaries of "reasonable belief in imminent danger" to include what "a battered woman would reasonably believe is imminent."
  • Updated throughout, this edition continues to provide real-world insight to students with coverage on such hot topics as syndrome defenses, insanity defenses, terrorism/homeland security, illegal immigration, illegal drugs and sex offenses, and social media and the law. There's also discussion on the highly controversial issue of when, if ever, it's a crime for police officers to shoot and/or detain people in the neighborhoods they police -- such as New York City; Ferguson, Missouri; North Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland.
  • The new MindTap® online learning platform for Criminal Law, 12th Edition, offers customizable content, course analytics, an e-reader, and an applied learning experience –- all delivered within your current learning management system. With its rich array of media assets –- all tagged by learning objective and Bloom's Taxonomy level –- MindTap engages students, guides them toward mastery of basic concepts, and advances their critical thinking abilities.
  • Providing a durable, practical framework that students can apply to specific cases in the textbook, Professor Samaha focuses on the principles that affect the whole of criminal law, showing students the continuing relevance of these principles to new developments and jurisdictional differences.
  • Maximizing students' learning potential and course success, learning tools make this book appropriate for a wide range of students, including today's visual and online-oriented learners. Absorbing case "teasers" draw students into each chapter, and "Elements of Crime" boxes give a visual view of the elements of the major crimes included in the book. Case-clarifying discussion questions offer further insight, while Internet references connect students to additional resources. The entire Bill of Rights appears in the appendix, providing a handy reference.
  • An updated running glossary in the text's margins provides an invaluable review and study tool for students.
  • Helping students focus on key topics, chapter-opening numbered learning objectives are called out in text margins and revisited in the end-of-chapter summary. Objectives are also integrated into the Test Bank and other supplements that accompany the text.
  • Samaha's popular text/casebook approach gives you ultimate flexibility in organizing your course. It enables you to pick and choose the extent of case coverage you want while still enjoying the advantage of this bestseller's superb and comprehensive coverage of case law.
  • Clear and accessible for students, Samaha's CRIMINAL LAW also is impeccably accurate, case-driven, and comprehensive for your teaching needs -- understandably making it the text of choice at colleges across the country.
1. Criminal Law and Punishment in U.S. Society: An Overview.
2. Constitutional Limits on Criminal Law.
3. The Criminal Act: The First Principle of Criminal Liability.
4. The General Principles of Criminal Liability: Men's Rea, Concurrence, Ignorance, and Mistake.
5. Defenses to Criminal Liability I: Justifications.
6. Defenses to Criminal Liability II: Excuses.
7. Parties to Crime and Vicarious Liability.
8. Inchoate Crimes.
9. Crimes Against Persons I: Murder and Manslaughter.
10. Crimes Against Persons II: Sex Offenses, Bodily Injury, and Personal Restraint.
11. Crimes Against Property.
12. Crimes Against Public Order and Morals.
13. Crimes Against the State.
Appendix (Selected Amendments to Constitution of the United States: The Bill of Rights and Amendment XIV).
Each MindTap product offers the full, mobile-ready textbook combined with superior and proven learning tools at one affordable price. Students who purchase digital access can add a print option at any time when a print option is available for their course.

This Cengage solution can be seamlessly integrated into most Learning Management Systems (Blackboard, Brightspace by D2L, Canvas, Moodle, and more) but does require a different ISBN for access codes. Please work with your Cengage Learning Consultant to ensure the proper course set up and ordering information. For additional information, please visit the LMS Integration site.

Standalone Digital Access — Ultimate Value

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  • ISBN-10: 1305639898
  • ISBN-13: 9781305639898
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $93.00
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Digital Access + Print — Flexible Value

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  • ISBN-10: 1337150436
  • ISBN-13: 9781337150439
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  • ISBN-10: 1337189782
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Textbook Only Options

Traditional eBook and Print Options

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  • ISBN-10: 1337222062
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  • ISBN-10: 1305577388
  • ISBN-13: 9781305577381
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"I wish my law school textbooks had been this straightforward and clearly written."

"[This book provides] a great balance of black letter law (elements of the crime) and text case study."

Cengage provides a range of supplements that are updated in coordination with the main title selection. For more information about these supplements, contact your Learning Consultant.


Online PowerPoint® Slides

ISBN: 9781305640146
These vibrant Microsoft® PowerPoint® lecture slides for each chapter assist you with your lecture by providing concept coverage using images, figures, and tables directly from the textbook.

Cengage Learning Testing, powered by Cognero Instant Access

ISBN: 9781305640177
Cengage Learning Testing Powered by Cognero® is a flexible, online system that allows you to: import, edit, and manipulate content from the text's test bank or elsewhere, including your own favorite test questions; create multiple test versions in an instant; and deliver tests from your LMS, your classroom, or wherever you want.

Quality Matters CY 2017

Quality Matters Certified Course

This certification mark recognizes that this course met Quality Matters Review Standards. 

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