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The Criminal Law Handbook: Know Your Rights, Survive the System Paperback – March, 2003

66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

No one's above the law, but nearly everyone breaks it at some point or another. Whether it's flashing lights pulling you over to the side or an auditor looking grimly through your tax receipts, there may come a time when you'll want to know more, in a personal sort of way, about arraignments and voir dire, habeas corpus, and just how bail works. Lawyers Bergman and Berman-Barrett cover it all in a straightforward, uncomplicated manner. Addressing police questioning and the law of search and seizure, criminal defense options and common defense strategies, acceptable courtroom behavior, basic criminal trial rules, and a walk through the trial process to parole, this is a strikingly accessible tome of information one hopes to never need. But in the event that you do, it's here and available in the kind of language you can understand and the wealth of detail and example you can use. --Stephanie Gold --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

An excellent and balanced guide to the state court criminal justice process, this book does not detail the differences of being charged in federal court, such as federal sentencing guidelines. Authors Bergman (Reel Justice, LJ 6/1/96) and Berman-Barrett, also a criminal attorney, use a question-and-answer format to cover cases from police investigations through appeals. The book is not intended to replace legal advice, and the authors stress the importance of obtaining representation, unlike Michael Saeger in Defend Yourself Against Criminal Charges (LJ 10/1/97), a recent, inferior guide. A worthy addition to all libraries that will instruct those interested in the criminal justice system.?Harry Charles, St. Louis
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Criminal Law Handbook
  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Nolo; 5th edition (March 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873379284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873379281
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 7.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,655,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Chernoch on May 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
The law can be a dry and dull read, but these authors have introduced just enough humour to make the effort worthwhile. The names of almost every party in the numerous cases sprinkled throughout the book are puns or double entendres, and some of them are a little tricky to figure out, making for a nice diversion when the subject might otherwise have been tedious.
The whole arrangement of the book is meant to reflect the entire legal process and is extremely logical and accessible. It is excellently cross-referenced and makes frequent reference to the relevant sections of state and federal laws. The writing style is conversational and quite readable.
The authors take great pains to comment on those aspects of law that vary from state to state, which I found helpful considering how I was raised in one state and now live in another and took certain things for granted.
All the legal terms that are introduced are carefully explained, and facsimiles of the various legal documents, such as search and arrest warrants, are included at the end of each chapter.
One unusual feature that shows the depth of the authors' treatment is how they comment on the emotional state that defendants, victims and court personnel are typically in at various stages of the proceedings. They use this to explain how that may influence people's behavior and argue for or against certain courses of action, such as talking to police alone or waiting for a lawyer to arrive, etc.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Erehwon on February 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book provides an excellent overview of criminal law for the layperson. The authors provide a sound overview of complex topics without getting bogged down in the endless minutia inherent to criminal law.
It is also refreshing that the authors do not waste the reader's time by interjecting ideological and social policy opinions into the book.
Whether your interest in criminal law arises from intellectual curiousity or from finding yourself "in the system", I don't believe you will find a better introductory book than this.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Daniel on September 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
An excellent source book for "getting it right" for lay persons who want to "cut to the quick" in the search for answers to legal problems concerning the criminal law system. No mumbo jumbo legalese here, just straight talk in plain English. Kudos to you and your effort.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mohamed F. El-Hewie on August 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Although the style of the book mimics that of "Represent Yourself In Court" by the same author, its substance is quite thin. It does not seem that sticking with a particular style had helped the author in this case. Many definitions are lacking, both in the body of chapters and in the index. Under the topic "theft" for example, the act of forgery is inferred from misrepresentation or conversion. Then the topic is cut short as if the author had suffered fatigue. Attempting to study a specific topic in criminal law would not get you too far by this book.

The stories and examples also did not help make the book useful. Too many stories blunt the flow of thoughts when attempting to follow the logic of specific legal entity. Since the book is not intended of do it yourself manual, the author is less effective in presenting an attractive reference by adopting his particular style of examples, bulleted items, and summation tables. Or, may be the area of criminal law is too specialized for amateurs.

Its historical analysis of how the criminal law grew, is also less attractive by virtue of its reliance of stories and large white space that make it hard to sum up historical landmarks in a concise length of paragraphs. There is little if any logical flow from one chapter to the other. That is not the case with its cousin, where one expects and finds subsequent chapters and subchapters very well connected and leading to a coherent outcome.

Mohamed F. El-Hewie
Author of
Essentials of Weightlifting and Strength Training
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Traveler on October 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm certainly not a lawyer, but I try to be well read on the general topic, especially civil liberties issues and the general history of the Supreme Court and their rulings.

From what I do know about the law, "The Criminal Law Handbook" is very accurate. The problem is that it has some glaring omissions as well as just naive advice/information that is devoid of reality.

First, the audience for this book I assume runs the gamut from those who might try to game the system (the guilty), people who have been unjustly charged, those who are being investigated, people who might be facing jury duty, general reference/legal hounds who just want to know things like this and those who have had their civil liberties violated.

For most of these categories the book does quite well. It explains the legal process and one's rights and there is immense value in having this knowledge.

For potential jurors I think this book is essential for the simple reason that the authors included information about jury nullification, something few Americans realize even exists. Jury nullification is a standard in US law that allows a jury to ignore the law completely and refuse to convict someone because they believe the law is unjust or that the law should not be applied to a specific individual due to circumstances. It is the unjust law aspect that arguably the most important, especially in cases where people have had their civil rights violated and have been charged with a crime. As the authors point out, this was the case in the 60s and 70s when protesters would be charged with a crime and juries would refuse to convict.
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