One of the things that's frustrating for first year law students taking criminal laws, well, what law am I learning? Am I learning the law of California or the law of New York or the law of the federal government? What's at play? And I think it's because students are oftentimes coming from classes like contract law, where what's the law is pretty obvious. It's going to be, typically in a law school class, the uniform commercial code. So you can go to the library or go to a website and pull that code down and take a look at it. But in a typical criminal law course in law school, that one case will be from the West coast, and then the next case will be from the East coast. And the next case will be under a law that Congress has passed in the federal criminal code. And so students are often wondering “What am I trying to learn here?” And the conventional answer that criminal law professors give is that you’re learning basic principles of criminal law. And that it may be unclear where a student is going to ultimately practice, uh, one state or the other. It might be a state prosecutor or a federal prosecutor, or a state defense attorney, federal defense attorney. But if you understand the general principles of criminal law, then you'll be well situated to step in and prosecute and defend criminal cases. And that's partially a reflection of the fact that statutes tend to change as new problems emerge and legislatures respond by drafting different things. Sometimes there's a feeling that, uh, the criminal law is too strict or too lenient, and the legislature might respond by expanding or narrowing the criminal prohibitions in that area. One thing that oftentimes will be referenced in a first year criminal law book though, is the model penal code or MPC, is the way it's often referred to. And people wonder, well, is that the law somewhere? Well, it's, it's really a, as the phrase says, a model penal code. And so many states have adopted MPC principles because the MPC was written by very knowledgeable people in the American Law Institute, that, uh, were trying to essentially put together best practices, if you will, for legislatures in drafting criminal codes. So a lot of law schools will use the MPC, or case books, will use the MPC as illustrative of good ways of drafting criminal prohibitions, and then play around with, with how broad or how narrow are those prohibitions.

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