Criminal Law & Procedure

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U.S. criminal law depends on attorneys who are passionate about seeing justice done. USF Law provides the practical and theoretical training all criminal attorneys need to succeed as justice warriors, in whatever area of the criminal justice system you practice.

Whether you are interested in working as a prosecutor or a criminal defense attorney, resolving disputes, or safeguarding civil liberties, USF's criminal law and procedure curriculum prepares you to hit the ground running after graduation.

Our dynamic Criminal and Juvenile Justice Law Clinic provides hands-on experiences where you’ll take a leadership role in cases and learn the problem-solving, strategizing, and advocacy skills you’ll need in your career.

As part of our extensive Civil and Criminal Law Externship Program, you receive academic credit while putting your education to use in the offices of district attorneys, public defenders, and other Bay Area criminal law employers. The nationally recognized Keta Taylor Colby Death Penalty Project at USF sends our law students to work with capital defense attorneys in the southern United States, and often becomes students’ most memorable law school experience.

USF's criminal law courses build on the essentials, addressing the constitutional and statutory framework for criminal prosecution. Our Intensive Advocacy Program, a two-week course focusing on litigation and trial techniques and strategies, brings seasoned lawyers and judges from across the nation to train our students in the art of advocacy.

The most interesting part of my externship was working intimately and daily with clients and their families, allowing me to see first hand the ways in which the criminal legal system disproportionately affects low-income communities of color. With my mentor’s guidance, I made court appearances nearly every week and was able to advocate for clients as well as meet and speak with attorneys and judges regularly."

Cecilia Fierro ’15 Externed at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and was hired by the Contra Costa Public Defender Office immediately after graduation

Select Courses

  • Advanced Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Evidence
  • International Criminal Law
  • Interrogations & Confessions
  • Juvenile Law
  • Wrongful Convictions


  • Lara Bazelon is an expert on juvenile law and director of the criminal juvenile justice clinic and the racial justice clinic
  • Richard Leo is an acclaimed legal scholar on false confessions and wrongful convictions and criminal procedure


Special Program

Representative Externships

  • Alameda County District Attorney's Office
  • Alameda County Public Defender's Office
  • District Attorney's Office of Sonoma County
  • Law Offices of B.C. McComas
  • Law Offices of Douglas Horngrad
  • San Francisco District Attorney's Office
  • San Francisco Public Defender's Office
  • San Francisco Superior Court, Criminal Division
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office

Student Organization

  • Criminal Law Society