How to Write a Research Essay in Criminal Law

Writing guide
Posted on August 15, 2019

Law niche is the first school discipline on the globe. One of the areas of Law is Criminal Law. It includes all aspects of punishment, crime, and annulment of punishment. Typically, Criminal Law is divided into two key types, i.e., felonies and misdemeanors. Felony is a serious criminal offense, such as rape, robbery, selling drugs, or murder, while a misdemeanor is a less grave crime that is related to less severe punishment (traffic offense, for instance).

Research essays in the field of Criminal Law are usually assigned in many colleges and universities. It is a type of academic essays that makes you analyze the works of the other authors and compare their thoughts and ideas with the ones of yours. A research essay is a well-organized and clearly written project that includes thorough researching source material and meticulously synthesizing what you learn from it using your thoughts and ideas. Throughout the course, you will be required to craft a couple of research essays on a variety of topics. In case you don’t know how to approach the task, make sure to consider the guidance given below.

Choosing a Topic

The good thing about writing a research essay in Criminal Law is that you are not going to lack interesting ideas for your project in this area. Feel free to choose any crime that a person can potentially commit or punishment that you’d like to investigate, and you will get an excellent issue to research and write about. Here are the niches where you can find hooking and researchable topics:

  • juvenile justice;
  • capital punishment;
  • criminal justice theories;
  • restorative justice;
  • incarceration;
  • classification of criminals;
  • wrongful convictions, and so on.

In the case of the research essays on Criminal Law, you are not limited either by country or historical period, but still, you have a limited amount of pages and time for your assignment. Try to compare the same law in different countries, or the changes in the one law throughout the years and your research essay will be 100% winning. Plus, you will stay away from conducting excessive research that will save your precious time.

It is important to use real Criminal Law cases when you need to illustrate your point. The reality is that the area is like Mathematics: first, you provide the formula and then ensure to solve a particular problem with it. If the readers have an opportunity to see the real situation where this or that law was used or which caused some changes in the law, they will have a chance to understand why/how it happened. More often than not, a good example provides more help than pages of pointless sentences.

Here are some good Criminal Law topics that you may use to get inspired for your research essay:

  • Juvenile Delinquency & Crime Prevention;
  • Exotic Crime All over the Globe: The Reasons They Are Considered Exotic There;
  • Pros and Cons of Capital Punishment: Why and When It Can Be Justified;
  • Is the Law on Corporate Manslaughter Fit for Purpose?
  • The International Criminal Court & When It Should Come into Play;
  • The Importance of Due Process;
  • Social Control Theory vs. Self-Control Theory;
  • The Christian Burial Case: An Introduction to Judicial and Criminal Procedure;
  • Cannabis & Possession of Controlled Drugs and Substances;
  • The Roles of Mass Media in the Case Investigation;
  • Religious Crimes and Religious Laws in Developed and Developing Countries;
  • Psychological Sequelae of Hate-Crime Victimization among Gay, Bisexual, and Lesbian Adults;
  • Miranda Law: The Right to Stay Silent;
  • Terrorism as the Type of Crime in The United States of America;
  • Sexual Harassment in the Workplace or at School;
  • Relationship Between Crime & Individuals with Mental Health Illnesses;
  • Human Trafficking, Prostitution, and Slavery: How to World Tries to Eliminate It;
  • Wildlife and Environmental Crimes;
  • Are the Laws Outdated for the Cybercrimes?
  • The Future of the Criminology: How Scientists Help to Investigate Crimes;
  • Quantitative Criminology & How It Differs from the Other Niches;
  • Juvenile Justice & Juvenile Court: The Key Differences and Similarities;
  • Victories and Failures of Experimental Criminology;
  • Domestic Violence: The Key Difference between the Real Data and Stats;
  • Hate Crime, Violence, and Cultures of Racism;

Keep in Mind Your Target Audience

It is important to keep in mind who your target audience is. You may be a superb future prosecutor, but if your target audience can’t boast of having that kind of knowledge level, they will definitely get bored too soon. It is important to never mention the law by some unknown names or numbers only. Instead, always make certain to explain in a few words what each term is about and why it is crucial in the niche, even if it takes valuable minutes and pages of your essay. The point here is that your key goal is to make your audience feel like pros; otherwise, your readers are not going to read attentively enough. Unfortunately, Criminal Law is a pretty tricky academic discipline, especially when it comes to getting your readers involved. Make sure to think it over before you give some final touches to your project.

Working on the Research Essay

Once you have decided on the research essay topic for Criminal Law discipline, do in-depth research on it, and create a well-organized project to share your findings. Make sure to take the following steps in order to get an A+:

Step 1. Explore all the theoretical materials related to the issue. The area of Criminal Law is based on many different theories. While some theories provide you with explanations of why people commit crimes, the others are related to how to respond to this or that criminal action. For instance, you might refer to the theory of ideals that involves an account of the values that “bear upon how people should act, and of all priority relations between the values.” The theoretical materials in Criminal Law niche can help you properly set the research essay context.

Step 2. Choose your key methods. Based on the research essay topic that you select, make sure to apply different methods. It is important to mention that in the case with Criminal Law, the procedures are likely to include:

  • Doing surveys: create a questionnaire and receive the necessary details from your targets.
  • Do observations: check how targets tend to behave and what exactly it is that they do in this or that situation.
  • Conduct experiments: provide some motivation and find out how your targets tend to respond to it.
  • Look through case studies: explore your topic by checking police records, court records, medical histories, or real-life stories.

Perform Research

The topic idea for your research essay in Criminal Law is a question, and your task here is to answer it in your project. For instance, if you write your research essay on ‘Why Do Some Crimes Have Several Different Punishments?’ you have to analyze the data that you found using any of the methods mentioned above. Make sure to learn what the problem or issue is, the reasons why it occurs here and there, as well as what will happen if this or that criminal law is implemented. Use sources like Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Harvard Law Review, or New Criminal Law for more detailed information for your research.

It is important to document all the important details. They serve as a solid foundation for your research essay. Document all participants, actions, materials, and equipment that you used to research the issue and come to the results.

Write the Research Essay Step by Step

Your research essay in Criminal Law should comprise the following segments: intro, method, results, discussion, concluding the section, and references. One of the helpful things that the author of the research essay can do when writing in Criminal Law is to outline the text to provide sections for the key points of the essay. Do this before you start writing so you can visualize how every section of the project will fit together. Besides, this will also enable you to rearrange all essay ingredients to make your text flow logically.

An outline of a research essay in Criminal Law can be as general or detailed as you prefer as long as it helps you to get the idea of how to build the essay. While some authors tend to include a couple of sentences under every heading in the outline to create a kind of a short essay, the others are sure that a quick list of topics will do. Do it the way that you’re most comfortable with. For example, if you work on the research topic ‘Contemporary Hate Crimes in the United States of America,’ your outline might look as follows:

  1. Introduction
    • The number of hate groups in the US has been rising, partially due to the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump. According to SLPC (Southern Poverty Law Center), in 2016, the total number of hate groups in the United States grew to 917 from 892, just a year earlier.
  2. Method
    • Using the case studies method, the combination of witness testimony and reports have been investigated.
  3. Results
    • As a result, almost 900 incidents of hate were observed in the ten days after the election. During the first month after the election, 1 094 incidents were counted, and 1 863 incidents were counted between November 9 and March 31.
  4. Discussion
    • The effect of hate crimes: Hate crimes have a truly devastating effect on both – the victim and the whole community/society.
    • The history issues: During the history of the United States of America, hate crime laws did not exist until the mid-twentieth century.
    • We need to address those problems today: Hate crimes are still hard to prosecute nowadays. Prosecuting this sort of crimes needs proving the hate or bias of the offender as the key motivation for the crime. Further changes in Criminal Law are needed.
  5. Conclusion
    • Unfortunately, prosecuting hate crimes is a hard task for public prosecutors and law enforcement in general. It is important to fashion a particular rule that would allow defendant’s membership evidence in a hate group. This, in turn, would help public prosecutors by enabling relevant evidence to come in for a hare rime at a trial.
  6. References
    • Hauslohner, A. (November, 2017). Hate crimes reports are soaring – but we still don’t know how many people are victimized. Washington Post.
    • US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Special Report: Hate Crime Victimization, 2004-2015, US Department of Justice, (June 2017).
    • German Lopez, Why it’s so hard to prosecute a hate crime, Vox, (May 23, 2017 1:00 pm).
    • EU Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2017). Hate crimes. Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Justice.

If you’re lucky to have enough time, make sure to build your outline a couple of days before you begin to write the research essay. It is important to come back to it more than once. Thus, you will have an opportunity to think and see if the parts of your project will work together in the final draft. Feel free to rearrange things in your essay outline as many times as possible if you want to have a structure that your tutor will be satisfied with.

Organize your text correspondingly. Provide all the important details. College research essays in Criminal Law should typically be formatted in APA style. In case you do not have any other specific instructions, stick to this formatting style as well. Once you’re done with the work, ensure to re-read, revise, and proofread it carefully.

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