Criminal Sentencing and Appeals

Criminal Sentencing and Appeals


Welcome to LawShelf’s video-course on criminal sentencing and appeals. This course focuses on the post-verdict phase in criminal cases from sentencing through appeals. This is an introductory level course in criminal procedure, and no prior knowledge or experience is required.

Our first module presents a survey on the different types of sentences, including plea-bargains, diversion, fines, probation, community service, house arrest and incarceration. We will also look at sentencing structure, including discussions of concurrent and consecutive sentencing, split sentences and suspended sentences.

We will then turn to sentencing procedure. Module 2 looks at the sentencing hearing and the statements by various parties, including the prosecution, defense counsel, the defendant, witnesses and victims. We’ll also look at the pre-sentence report and the role it plays in many sentencing procedures. We’ll also discuss the roles of victim impact statements and when and for what they are appropriate.

Module 3 covers the statutory bases for sentencing. We’ll look at statutory sentences, including prescribed minimums, maximums and the landscape of the judge’s discretion in sentencing. We’ll also focus on the role and mechanics of the federal sentencing guidelines.

In Modules 4 and 5, we’ll turn to appeals. Module 4 covers the right to appeal, types of appellate review and the applicable standards of review. We’ll look at de novo, abuse of discretion and review for “clear error.” We’ll also cover the types of errors that can or must lead to reversal and the “plain error” rule. We’ll also look at habeas corpus. While not direct appeals, habeas petitions present collateral bases for appeal.

In Module 5, we’ll look at appellate procedure. We’ll cover the final judgment rule and when interlocutory appeals are allowed. We’ll also discuss when, where and how appeals must be filed. We’ll cover the procedures of writing briefs, conducting oral arguments and the issuance of appellate decisions. Finally, we’ll outline the possible results of appellate proceedings.

By completing this course, you should acquire a better understanding of the processes that follow criminal convictions in the criminal justice system. We hope that you will take advantage, as well, of our other criminal law and procedure courses.

Best of luck and please let us know if you have any questions or feedback.

What is a video-course?

A LawShelf video-course is an in-depth series of presentations on a discreet legal topic. LawShelf video-courses focus on practical legal information and applications and are each designed to familiarize the viewer with a legal topic quickly and efficiently.

Who should take a video-course?

Our video courses are designed for professionals such as attorneys, paralegals, corporate officers and financial professionals, as well as laypeople looking to deepen their knowledge of particular areas of law. The courses allow you to acquire the specific knowledge and skills that you need without the expense and time commitment of going “back to school” for a degree. 

How do I learn?

Video courses are divided into 5 or 6 modules.  Each module contains a video lesson (usually about 15 minutes long) and a series of self-test questions that you can use to practice and make sure that you understand the material.

How do I complete a video-course?

To complete a video-course, you must pass a 10-question multiple-choice examination by scoring 70% or higher.  The questions on the exam are randomly selected from the self-test question sets for the various modules. You can retake an exam as many times as you need to, though you will not get the same questions each time since the questions are drawn from an exam bank.

How long will it take me to complete a video-course?

Between watching the modules, doing the self-test practice questions, reviewing the material and taking the final exam, we estimate that completing a video-course requires a time investment of 4-5 hours.  The courses are designed to get straight to the point. We’re cognizant that your time is valuable, and we condense the information you need to know to comprehensively cover a subject into as little time as practical.

Is there limit to how many video-courses I can take or complete?

No. A LawShelf subscription enables you to access any and all LawShelf content, including all video-courses. You can take courses as quickly or slowly as your time allows.

Do I receive any recognition for completing a video-course?

Once you complete the course by passing the final exam, you will be awarded a digital badge to display as evidence of your training and accomplishment.

How will a digital badge help me? 

Modern educational trends are moving away from traditional classroom-based course completion models and towards skills-based education. Employers today care more about skills than ever before. LawShelf digital badges conform to the Open Badge standard and are verifiable records of your skills that can easily be shared online.

How long do I retain access to the course materials?

You retain access the modules and take the final exam as long as you are a subscriber to LawShelf.

Sentencing Options - Module 1 of 5

Sentencing Procedure - Module 2 of 5

Sentencing Statutes and Guidelines - Module 3 of 5

The Right to Appeal - Module 4 of 5

Appellate Procedure - Module 5 of 5

Final Exam only needs to be taken by those seeking to earn the Digital Badge credentials for this course.