My fascination with crime and criminal law began as a young "layperson" growing up in Chicago watching crime dramas and reading true-crime novels. That fascination continues today in academia, although considerably more focused on the intricacies and subtleties of the criminal law. For me, and perhaps for many others, the "whys" and "hows" of crime and punishment raise very basic yet compelling questions of morality and choices--choices that society has made in criminalizing certain conduct and choices that individuals make when their conduct violates the criminal law.
This book endeavors to provide readers with a greater awareness and understanding of how these choices overlap in the American criminal justice system. Because a large part of the criminal law deals with the application of discrete crimes, it is possible to begin by reading the later chapters that discuss specific crimes. However, I highly recommend first exploring the chapters on the history and basic concepts of criminal law because these chapters place the criminal law in a broader historical context and explain the foundation underlying many of the specific crimes discussed later.
Speaking of foundation, one does not typically get to the point of writing a book without a significant personal and professional foundation. I owe a debt of gratitude to many people who have served as mentors and advisers along the way. I would especially like to recognize the efforts of several people who went the extra mile for me. My special thanks to Dr. Steve McConnell at the University of Toledo and to Chris Richardson at Davis, Graham and Stubbs in Denver, who each took the time to offer advice and