AJ005 Online
Criminal Investigation
Course Syllabus




: Jim Smith


: 408 741-2553


: jim_smith@westvalley.edu



Required Text

: Criminal Investigation by Swanson (Eleventh Edition). McGraw Hill Publishers.




Fundamentals of investigation, crime scene search and recording, preliminary investigation of physical evidence, modus operandi, sources of information, interviews and interrogation, follow-up investigations.



  • To provide the student with the knowledge of why crime is investigated and the results that are desired.
  • To develop in the student the knowledge necessary to prepare a case for court from the initial investigation to the trial.
  • To equip the student with elementary interviewing and interrogation skills as swell as learning the legal requirements of confessions, admissions and statements.
  • To teach the student the necessary steps and procedures as well as peculiarities in investigation of major crimes with emphasis on the crime of homicide.
  • To provide the student with the types of investigative aids that are available such as records, computerized files, computer fingerprint files, and how to use these systems.
  • To equip the student with the fundamentals of crime scene investigation, preservation of evidence, and courtroom presentation of the completed investigation.



  • When presented with the basic techniques of note taking, the student will be able to satisfactorily analyze and compile data for use in formal reporting of investigations.
  • Given case studies, the student will demonstrate basic investigative proficiencies, to the satisfaction of the instructor, by synthesizing a situation and reducing the crime to reportable elements.
  • The student will demonstrate the basic steps of interviewing using non-verbal observation and communication skills while conducting a satisfactory interview.
  • In assigned exercises, the student will satisfactorily apply basic English rules to good reporting structures; to describe and identify evidentiary items in proper format.





Point Value



A. Syllabus Quiz




B. Autobiography Posting (including two replies to other postings)



C. Fourteen Weekly Lesson Quizzes @ 20 points each (Handouts/PowerPoint/Text)


  D. Fourteen Weekly Written Assignments @ 25 points each. 350
  E. Final Examination (Comprehensive) 100
              All final questions will be taken from the chapter quiz questions. 



Total Points Possible




Lesson 1



Chapter 1 The Evolution of Criminal Investigation and Forensic Science



Lesson 2



Chapter 2 Legal Aspects of Investigation


  Chapter 3 Investigators, the Investigation Process, and the Crime Scene  




Lesson 3



Chapter 4 Physical Evidence



Lesson 4



Chapter 5 Interviewing and Interrogation



Chapter 6 Field Notes and Reporting



Lesson 5



Chapter 7 The Follow Up Investigation and Investigative Resources



Chapter 8 The Crime Laboratory



Lesson 6



Chapter 9 Injury and Death Investigation



Lesson 7



Chapter 10 Sex Related Offenses



Chapter 11 Crimes against Children



Lesson 8

  Chapter 12 Human Trafficking  


Chapter 13 Robbery



Lesson 9



Chapter 14 Burglary



Lesson 10



Chapter 15 Larceny/Theft and White-Collar Crime


  Chapter 16 Vehicle Thefts and Related Offenses  

Lesson 11

  Chapter 17 Cyber Crime  
  Chapter 18 Agricultural, Wildlife, and Environmental Crimes  

Lesson 12

  Chapter 19 Arson and Explosives  

Lesson 13

  Chapter 20 Recognition, Control, and Investigation of Drug Abuse  
  Chapter 21 Terrorism  

Lesson 14

  Chapter 22 The Trial Process and the Investigator as a Witness


Grading Scale (Final Grade)



693 - 770 = A

616 - 692 = B

539 - 615 = C


462 - 538 = D

000 - 537 = F




  Items of Interest


  • Absolutely no homework or assignments will be accepted during the week of the final exam (summer or condensed classes excepted). This may not be the same week as the classroom schedule, it is the week when the final is posted for this online class.

  • The last week of this course usually ends earlier than the regular classroom schedule (summer or condensed classes excepted). This allows time to trouble shoot any possible technical problems that may occur prior to the submission of final grades. You must complete and submit the final exam before the deadline. I can't stress enough that you must follow the class calendar of due dates. Past students that didn't read the syllabus, this notice, or just forgot, were very disappointed when they learned they missed the final and had to settle for a lower grade than they could have earned. There is a link to the class calendar in the Assignments menu of the class.

  • The college policy on plagiarism and classroom dishonesty is strictly enforced in this class.  If you submit work that is not your own, you will be dropped from the class.

  • The instructor may make changes to the syllabus during the semester.  It is your responsibility to stay informed of these changes.  You must check the class website at least once weekly for emails, postings from the instructor and upcoming assignment due dates!

  • There will be no extra credit. Please do not inquire. All students will be assessed equally based upon the established course requirements.

  • There are many videos and photographs used in the course that are considered graphic.  They depict death, means of death, actual suicides, murder victims and autopsies.  Death investigation is a major portion of any criminal investigation class and these visual aids are to help future investigators learn what caused death or a traumatic injury.  I personally have handled the investigation of many of the deaths displayed and always remember them as individuals such as ourselves.  Always respect the dignity of the victim, family, friends and investigative personnel involved in investigating crimes of this nature.  I will try to indicate that a photograph or video is considered especially graphic by this warning: