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LSTD204 - Introduction to the Courts

Course Details

Course Code: LSTD204 Course ID: 2531 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

This course is an introduction to the structure of the American court system. Topics include prosecution, right to counsel, pretrial release, grand jury process, and sentencing concepts. The course will assess the U.S Courts System and how it relates to the criminal justice system in America. Students will become familiar with the chronological events from the arrest process to sentencing and appeals. Students will be able to explain concepts of stop and frisk arrest, searches under warrant, and presentation of the case to the magistrate. Assessments of the criminal trial process and phases of pretrial and trial proceedings will be examined.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
05/27/19 - 11/01/19 11/04/19 - 12/29/19 Fall 2019 Session I 8 Week session
06/24/19 - 11/29/19 12/02/19 - 01/26/20 Fall 2019 Session D 8 Week session
07/29/19 - 01/03/20 01/06/20 - 03/01/20 Winter 2020 Session B 8 Week session
08/26/19 - 01/31/20 02/03/20 - 03/29/20 Winter 2020 Session I 8 Week session
09/30/19 - 02/28/20 03/02/20 - 04/26/20 Winter 2020 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to demonstrate and explain the following learning objectives:

  • Identify historical events and figures that have contributed to the present-day court system in America.
  • Identify the various types of courts.
  • Explore legal education and the opportunities available in the legal profession.
  • Know the various parties in the legal system: judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants and victims.
  • Understand the trial process: arrest, pleas, trial, sentencing and appeals.
  • Recognize the problem of wrongful convictions and what can be done about it.
  • Explore the expanding use of technology in the legal system.


There will be seven required forum discussions found in the Forums tab. Initial posts must be submitted by Thursday each week. Classmate responses are due by Sunday each week.

Replies should be substantive. Comments like "I agree," or "Good job," are not substantive. Some things you could do to meet this requirement are: read a little of their research and comment on it; compare their research to yours; give examples if you agree with them, or counter examples if you don't; or share some of your experiences or issues you have seen that the rest of us probably won't be familiar with or have experienced.


Written assignments will found in the Assignments tab. Students are expected to complete the assignment by the due date. Please make sure to fully review any assignment instructions and rubric before beginning your paper.


The class contains a Midterm and Final examination. Both exams will be open book and available in the electronic classroom in the Tests & Quizzes tab, during the week they are due.

NameGrade %
Introduction 1.00 %
Forum Introduction 1.00 %
Exams 65.00 %
Midterm Exam 32.50 %
Final Exam 32.50 %
Research Paper 19.00 %
Access to Justice Assignment 19.00 %
Forums 15.00 %
Forum Participation Weeks 1-3 7.50 %
Forum Participation Weeks 5-7 7.50 %
Extra Credit 5.00 %
Extra Credit 5.00 %

Required Resource:

U.S. Department of State, Outline of the U.S. Legal System (2004).

Available at:;view=1up;seq=4

All required chapter readings may also be found inside the Lessons tab. Please visit for help with e-textbooks or contact the Electronic Course Materials team at

Additional Resources:

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Columbia Law Review Ass'n et. al. eds., 20th ed. 2015).

This is available in the APUS Library for free here: or may be purchased at your own expense in hard copy/online at: If you are a Legal Studies major, you should be implementing Bluebook citations in all work.

For those of you in majors outside the Legal Studies Department (such as Criminal Justice), you may implement APA Citations. You may find information on how to create APA Citations here: or here: APA Style Guide

Book Title:Outline of the U.S. Legal System - e-book available online, link provided in the classroom.
Author:No Author Specified

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.