Core Principles

This page includes capsules that are designed to provide students with some background about important criminal justice concerns and explain some important basic principles about the criminal law. A few caveats!

  1. Needless to say, this is not legal advice.  It is designed to provide introductory explanations of certain topics in criminal law.
  2. These materials were designed for my students taking part in my criminal law class- as such they are NOT supposed to be comprehensive or exhaustive of the subject.
  3. They were made with time constraints in mind.  There are errors throughout, and though I feel confident about the product generally, I did not attempt to correct every mistake made.  The goal was to put a good product together in a short period of time.
  4. Often, in the interests of time, certain points are generalized.  This doesn’t mean they’re “wrong”, but nuances are often fleshed out in the course materials or in class.  Rather than include caveats with every sentence, I sometimes make broad generalizations even though I’m aware there might be exceptions that can occasionally arise.  Again, the goal is to promote a generalized understanding that provides a platform for deeper learning.
  5. I will heartily disavow any attempt to rely upon these in conflict with another Professor, judge, lawyer, etc.  Thus, anyone who says “yes, but Professor Sankoff said X”… will receive no support from me!  Especially where exams are concerned, it is always good practice to follow your Professor’s view of the law.  If this material helps you, by all means use it, but do so with care.

Charter Basics – July 2015

This capsule, created for my Criminal Law class, is designed to provide viewers with a basic overview of the different ways in which the Charter of Rights and Freedoms can have an influence on the criminal justice system.

Division of Powers – August 2016

This capsule explores an important question: Who can enact criminal laws in Canada, and what does this mean for the criminal justice system?  It includes a basic overview of the Constitution Act 1867.

Section 9 of the Code: No Common Law Crimes – August 2016

The Vagueness Doctrine – September 2016

This material has taken considerable time and effort to produce.  I ask only two things in return.  First, if you like these capsules – pass them on.  The primary objective here is to share a deeper understanding for the subject area I love most.  Second, if any of this was in any way useful, I urge you to let me know.  A short note at, or a comment (below), or even a “like”, would really make my day!

2 thoughts on “Core Principles

  1. I’m a 1L in Penney’s Criminal Law class. He passed this site along as a resource. I have just watched the first capsule re: the Charter. Really REALLY helpful in providing context. So glad to find this resource and I look forward to watching the next capsules.

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