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Exam Specifications - Criminal Law Certification

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Purpose of the Examination
Examination Content
Description of the Examination
Directions to Examinees


Purpose of the Examination
The Criminal Law Certification examination consists of both multiple choice and essay questions. The multiple choice portion is designed to test that fundamental level of knowledge of criminal law and procedure that should be possessed by an experienced practitioner. The essay portion is designed to test the lawyer's analytical reasoning and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations.

The criminal certification process includes the certification examination and peer review and looks to the following skill areas possessed by the applicants:

Skill 1: Substantial experience in criminal law;

Skill 2: Knowledge of substantive law;

Skill 3: Knowledge of procedural law;

Skill 4: Issue recognition;

Skill 5: Ability to analyze issues;

Skill 6: Legal reasoning;

Skill 7: Familiarity in handling ethical situations;

Skill 8: Responding as situations arise in a court setting;

Skill 9: Persuasive ability.

The multiple choice portion of the exam is geared to testing one's knowledge of fundamental criminal law and procedure. The essay portion is designed to test issue recognition and legal analysis and reasoning.

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Examination Content
The examination is designed to cover a wide range of substantive knowledge of criminal law and procedure, particularly the following:

1. Rules of criminal procedure (federal and state);

2. Grand jury, immunity, investigations;

3. Pretrial detention and bond;

4. Discovery;

5. Statutes which define crimes;

6. Sentencing and guidelines;

7. Statutes of limitations;

8. Evidence code and rules;

9. Pretrial motion practice;

10. Probation violations;

11. Trial situations;

12. Post-conviction, preservation of error, appellate practice;

13. Ethics.
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The examination is prepared with an intention of covering these recurring problem areas. As the body of criminal law and procedure develops, these subject areas are adjusted, modified, or expanded.

1. Search and seizure;

2. Electronic interception;

3. Similar fact evidence;

4. Fifth and Sixth Amendment issues;

5. Grand jury practice;

6. Examination of witnesses;

7. Confrontation of witnesses;

8. Jury selection;

9. Double jeopardy;

10. Attorney-client privilege;

11. Sentencing practices.
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Description of the Examination
The examination includes essay and multiple choice questions. There are five essay questions, that are graded utilizing the holistic scoring method. The essay portion of the test accounts for a total of 500 points; 100 points for each essay question. There are 50 multiple choice questions accounting for 200 points. The multiple choice questions are specifically directed to trial or appellate issues, depending on the test being taken.

Directions to Examinees
All applicants receive an explanation of the examination. The expected knowledge level and subject areas are described in a letter to all applicants.
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[Revised: 11-08-2013]