Lesson 1: Introduction to Criminal Law


  1. View the film “12 Angry Men” and use this as a basis for analysis of the jury system.
  1. Visit your local provincial court and observe the proceedings of a variety of court cases. Watch one case from each division (Family, Criminal, Small Claims and Youth) and prepare a written report on your observations.
  1. Go to the website on Canadian Mysteries and find the story titled “Who Killed William Robinson.” The case outlines the murder of William Robinson, an African American on Salt Spring Island in the 19th century. Following the guidelines on the site and prepare an analysis of the key facts, issues and judgment.
  1. Contact a criminal defence lawyer and conduct an interview or have them come to the class for a presentation. Prepare your interview questions in advance. If you are inviting them as a guest speaker, meet in advance to plan out what will be discussed and how you can make the presentation interesting for the class.
  1. Contact the liaison officer for your school or the local police and bring them in to the classroom for a discussion on vice crimes. www.RCMP.ca  or www.Vancouver.ca/Police.
  1. Write your own crime scenarios based on fact or fiction. Exchange them with another student and answer the following questions:
  • What are the crimes in the scenarios?
  • Do you think the accused will be found guilty? Explain why.
  1. Using the Internet, or other resources, research five crimes that you have not discussed in class. Name the crime, define it and outline the punishments for that crime. Combine all the crimes together into a classroom glossary or a worksheet. This activity can also be done in groups. You can type in Criminal Code of Canada on the Internet for information on the code and for the specific offences it contains.
  1. Organize a visit from a media reporter who reports on the courts and interesting cases and issues that are being dealt with by the courts. Prepare a report including the information listed below:
  • What is the name of the guest speaker?
  • Place of work and position with news organization.
  • How does s/he choose the cases they report on?
  • How does s/he report the stories? How does s/he decide?
  • Does s/he report all the facts or just portions of the story?
  • Does s/he have a bias when reporting?
  • What is difference between news articles or segments and editorials?
  1. Dorothy and Toto find themselves in a strange land with some very strange characters! Assume that our laws exist in Oz and have students answer Yes or No to the following:
  • Is it a crime for the Wicked Witch of the West to imprison Dorothy in her castle? Is it a crime for the Wizard to pretend he has special powers in order to control people?
  • Does Dorothy need to have Toto on a leash in Emerald City?
  • Can the Witch sue Dorothy for damaging her house when she landed in Oz?
  • When Dorothy is in Emerald City does she have to obey the city’s laws?
  • Can the Witch be charged with a crime if she tries to set fire to the Scarecrow?
  • Can Dorothy be charged with murder for throwing water on the Witch, which supposedly killed her?
  • Can Dorothy take the Wizard to Court if he does not give the transportation back to Kansas that he promised her?