How to Write an Analytical Essay in Criminal Law

Writing guide
Posted on September 13, 2019

Writing an analytical essay in Criminal Law can be pretty intimidating for a college student, especially for those who study Criminal Justice since they face really strict requirements. Moreover, Criminal Law is a quite broad discipline, which means the writing assignments get harder to deal with.

However, it is important to state that it is indeed possible to create a well-structured analytical essay in Criminal Law with the ideas that flow in an organized and smooth manner.
This guide aims to help college students through the analytical writing process from the start to the end. You’re going to deal with the basic guide, so make sure to approach your tutors for additional guidance.

Before you start writing, just ask yourself the question, “What is an analytical essay?” In short, an analytical essay is a type of academic project that makes a claim based on a solid argument supported by relevant literature. It is aimed at checking students’ skills and knowledge in the field of any topic that is somehow related to Criminal Law, both local and international.

The primary mission of the analytical essay in Criminal Justice is to convince the readers of a particular angle of law that controls social actions and behavior and restricts/bans things that are hazardous for people.

There are several issues that you may cover in your analytical essay in Criminal Law field: theft, homicide, fraud, abuse, murder, violence, and abuse. No matter what topic you select, ensure to stick to the general rules of writing, and the instructions given by the tutor.

Step 1. Identify the Question

First and foremost, you need to decide on an analytical question. Some colleges provide students with a wide range of options to choose from. Obviously, your personal interests will play a crucial part in choosing what question you’re going to set.

If you have troubles selecting an essay question, it may be helpful to write all possible analytical essay structures or outlines for the questions that you’re interested in. Thus, you’ll find it easier to identify gaps in your knowledge in the given fields of study. Brainstorming scholars, keywords, and academic debates is also helpful.

When you choose a question, make sure you take your time to categorize its analytical demands:

  • What is the question of the essay really asking? In case of the problem questions – what areas are crucial to the resolution?
  • What are the main theories and concepts associated with the question? What basic areas of Criminal Law are in dispute?
  • Based on your knowledge of the existing literature in Criminal Law, what are the key arguments? What are the key debates about? When dealing with problem questions – what are the main cases and how skilled academics interpreted them?
  • What are the potential hypotheses and arguments? How can you refute or support them? In questions with Criminal Law, what possible interpretations of the main case are there?
  • How can you add your own original analysis? It is highly recommended to analyze the question carefully before one proceeds to the writing stage since this will influence directly how you structure the text and conduct your research.

Step 2. Choose Your Topic

Now, let’s check some of the best topics for the analytical essay in Criminal Law. Once you’re ready to make your choice, make sure to narrow your topic in order to focus on a certain area. Don’t provide the big picture or a historical background for the topic but rather concentrate on a specific area to formulate a strong argument and, together with that, demonstrate critical thinking throughout your piece.

Choose one of the Criminal Law topics next time you write an analytical essay:

  • Crime Prevention in High Schools and Colleges;
  • Religious Offenses and Cultural Traits in the USA;
  • Reasons to Review Classical Criminology Theories;
  • Mental Illnesses in Crime All over the World;
  • Crimes Propaganda in Modern Music Culture;
  • Potential Reasons for International Criminal Court to Pretend to Ignore Politics;
  • War Crimes versus Civil Crimes;
  • The Possibility to Remain Neutral in Mental Disorder Cases;
  • Identity Theft as a Modern Crime in the Post-Internet Era;
  • What Motivates People to Commit Hate Crimes?
  • Methods for Animal Cruelty Punishment;
  • How to Correct Cyber Criminology?
  • Evaluating Double Jeopardy Reform in the United States;
  • The Broken Windows Theory: the Environment Influence on the Current Crime Rates;
  • Blackmailing vs. Privacy in the Internet Era;
  • The Importance of Due Process;
  • The Limitations of Feminist Criminology;
  • Criminal Forfeiture vs. Civil Forfeiture: Analysis of the Two;
  • Does Eyewitness Testimony Help in the Process of Crime Investigation?
  • Direct Links Between Aggression and Crime

Step 3. Plan the Essay Structure

Proper structure is a must for a good analytical essay since it determines the strength of your argument. Drafting a preliminary paper structure is recommended before you carry on to the next stages. Keep in mind that you can edit and fix the essay structure later, in the process of writing. An example of the basic structure for the analytical essay in Criminal Law is shown below. Mind that it also should explain the purpose of each of the components of the essay.

Check the example of a potential essay structure in Criminal Law:

Word count (for 2000 word paper): 200 words

  1. Introduction and thesis statement
  2. Topic #1: main/body paragraph #1: 200 words
  3. Topic #2: main/body paragraph #2: 200 words
  4. Topic #3: main/body paragraph #3: 200 words
  5. Topic #4: main/body paragraph #4: 200 words
  6. Topic #5: main/body paragraph #5: 200 words
  7. Counter-arguments: 350 words
  8. Conclusion: 300 words
  9. Bibliography

Step 4. The Writing Stage

While the final essay should look polished and smooth, it takes a lot of work to get your piece into this shape. The structure of any writing assignment usually varies depending upon certain academic demands, the question, and the response of the author. Make sure to include the following elements into an analytical essay in Criminal Law:

  • Introduction. Start your intro generally and narrow towards your thesis. Don’t use cliché. Instead, use the opening sentence to provide your target reader with a solid sense of your field of study without applying all catchall phrases. Early in your introduction, ensure to provide the essay question but do that in some modified form. All in all, the introductive paragraph should hook your readers and contain the contextualized overview of the research question. The latter you provide through identifying the key issues or concepts.
  • Thesis statement. Many students tend to forget that the thesis statements is the only sentence in the project that truly matters. The thesis statement is the central argument of the project. It is more than just an essay that you provide to the essay question – it is the backbone of the paper. In a perfect world, the essay thesis statement should be strong and stand on its own, without any needless transition phrases like ‘In my analytical essay, I’m going to debate…’ Even though your thesis statement may change slightly throughout your essay writing stage, it is nevertheless crucial to produce a clear and solid thesis from the outset to build a strong paper structure.
  • Body or main paragraphs. Usually, the content of every paragraph of the body section varies according to the topic of your essay. At the same time, each should contain evidence that supports your central argument. Use the topic sentences for packaging all the evidence that supports the thesis statement. Once you work on an analytical essay in Criminal Law, you may want to divide one into sections that deal with theoretical issues, policy, and application. Feel free to break down the problem question into a range of legal issues that require discussion or to different interpretations on a central legal issue. When dealing with theory, divide a theory question into various theoretical databases or link it back to the core theory to be questioned from differing theoretical viewpoints. A policy or a practical part may be divided into sections containing case studies in order to illustrate points. Whatever the section you work on, your topic sentences will introduce the section and state how their issue area is directly related to the central argument. If it’s a long essay that you’re required to write, make sure to separate sections with proper and relevant subheadings. In the case of shorter papers, however, subheadings may distract you from the general context of the essay. In other words, the body paragraphs should be related to the topic sentence only that, given the evidence, will add credence to the thesis statement.

    Get rid of any type of superfluous information by sticking to the central argument and the subject area. Conclude every section with sufficient suggestions that link back to your thesis statement. These suggestions sum up how this or that section presents evidence for the thesis statements and help to smoothly transit to the following section.

  • Counter-Arguments. In case of the longer analytical essays in Criminal Law, it is recommended to provide a counter-argument section that goes before the concluding part. The paragraph includes any counter-arguments that your argument may be susceptible to, as well as states the reasons why the critiques aren’t relevant or don’t hold for any other potential grounds. In other words, while the previous body paragraph enables you to present consistent evidence to support your thesis statement, this paragraph adds some sophistication to your analysis through showing that you admit there are some contending hypotheses but sticking to your position for a good cause.
  • Concluding part. As a rule, this part of the analytical essays appears to be the most poorly arranged section. As it goes from its name, the concluding part is used to draw your paper to a close. While this section is generally regarded as the summary of the preceding arguments, make sure you’re not overly repetitive or redundant. Just like in case of the intro, don’t end your conclusion with an obvious cliché. Instead, try to return to some broader issues and present the findings of the project within the broader criminological context. Connect each of your findings back to the original questions, as well as to the ‘big general picture.’ For instance, an analytical essay about the power of prosecutors might be ended on what this might mean for the overall balance of rights or justice in general. Mind that each of the implications may be either practical or policy-oriented, or even theoretical. What is more, experts also recommend concluding your analytical essay by acknowledging the research limitations and specifying potential avenues for further investigation.

General Analytical Essay Writing Tips

  • Do not use any sort of assumptions. Remain objective in your essay writing instead of giving a preconceived viewpoint. Instead of giving a personal opinion or preference not supported by the relevant literature, make sure to supply your essay writing with trusted and credible academic evidence from trustworthy literature.
  • Be careful with bias. In an analytical essay, the word choice has to be handled carefully. The point here is that bias writing can focus your target audience on how you write the text instead of what kind of message you’re trying to communicate.
  • Say no to passive voice. Use the active voice in an analytical essay to ensure your essay clearly communicates your message to the readers.
  • Third person. Never use the first or second person in your analytical essay.

Finalizing the Analytical Essay

Editing and proofreading your analytical essay in Criminal Law is one of the steps that you’re not allowed to skip. Checking for grammar and spelling mistakes takes practice. Make sure to check the basic spelling, passive voice, grammar and English errors, Criminal Law terms, and first person. Use sources like FindLaw and Grammarly to boost your writing skills and help edit your paper.

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