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Legal studies – TOPIC 1

The first module in the legal studies course is crime and is a core that is recommended to consume 30% of lass time. This core focuses on criminal law and its processes, institutions and the potential tensions between various players such as individuals, society, and offenders. Students will be required to critically analyse the different proceedings in Australian courts and alternative pathways to achieving justice. As a final portion, there is an investigation into international crime, the institutions and the capacity for differing states to tackle such issues.

The first part of this core explores the nature of crime which ultimately looks at its elements, categories, parties to a crime, different offences, factors affecting criminal behaviour and the mechanisms for crime prevention. I will be able to assist students into recognising what classifies as an indictable and summary offence by looking at specific examples of such cases. The course will require students to understand also the elements of a crime and the role of legal principles such as strict liability and causation which play an active role in the legal system. To enhance student understanding, I teach the theory but focus primarily on real life application through examining cases and media articles.  

The following portions are structured in a manner that reflects criminal proceedings, starting with the investigation process, trial and sentencing. In the investigation phase, students are taught to analyse the effectiveness of the system and perhaps defects that must be improved through law reform. The rules surrounding gathering evidence, police powers, arrests, summons, warrant, bail and remand are all examined to allow students to critically determine whether the rights of each group are upheld. In the criminal trial process, I am able to guide students into understanding the court jurisdiction, integral to the system of precedent which governs Australia’s legal system and the differing pleas, use of evidence and defences in criminal charges. The sentencing and punishment stage finally examines the different guidelines which impact sentencing, the aggravating and mitigating factors which affect sentences and the types of penalties a court of alternative methods of sentencing may hand down. To help students better understand this both theoretically and in action, I encourage students to look at recent publicised criminal cases and understand how the sentencing procedures taught in the course applies.

Towards the end of the core, students will examine youth offenders, with respect to legal doctrines which create a limit on the age of criminal responsibility. Since children are treated differently in Australia’s legal system, the course also looks at the rights of children and how it is upheld by the criminal court, the potential penalties and contemporary alternatives to court which facilitate for rehabilitation. This part is more difficult to examine the contemporary applications as there are strict laws regarding the publication of children cases, but we will nevertheless examine older more famous cases to ensure students grasp an understanding of how the Australian system treats children. 

The final portion of the core is international crime which students generally find interesting. The topic examines the categories of international crime and how institutions and domestic governments have dealt with the matter. Throughout the topic, I am able to enhance each student’s understand the differences between each category and evaluate the effectiveness of differing approaches to international law by examining recent cases involving contemporary topics such as child soldiers, refugees, terrorism, and labour rights.  

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