Criminal Law

Professional Development Plan


This professional development plan takes you step by step through the most essential elements of criminal law practice.

Usage note
  • Overview
  • Unit 1: Overview of Criminal Practice in the Massachusetts Courts
  • Unit 2: The Charging Process
  • Unit 3: Developing the Theory of the Case and Other Strategies
  • Unit 4: Common Defenses
  • Unit 5: Ethics in Criminal Law Practice
  • Unit 6: Client and Witnesses
  • Unit 7: Arraignment and Bail
  • Unit 8: Detention Hearings
  • Unit 9: Mental Health Considerations
  • Unit 10: Search and Seizure
  • Unit 11: Discovery Practice
  • Unit 12: Special Problems in the Disclosure and Use of Privileged Information
  • Unit 13: Pretrial Preparation
  • Unit 14: Pretrial Conferences and Hearings
  • Unit 15: Motion Practice
  • Unit 16: Plea Bargaining
  • Unit 17: Interlocutory Appeals
  • Unit 18: The Media, the Open Courtroom and High-Profile Cases
  • Unit 19: Use of Experts & Forensic Evidence
  • Unit 20: Impaneling the Jury
  • Unit 21: Trial Practice Techniques
  • Unit 22: Selected Evidentiary Issues
  • Unit 23: Specific Issues with Respect to Children
  • Unit 24: Rule 25 Motions and Charging the Jury
  • Unit 25: The Verdict
  • Unit 26: Sentencing
  • Unit 27: Post-Conviction Concerns
  • Unit 28: Collateral Consequences
  • Unit 29: Civil Forfeiture
  • Unit 30: Elements of Common Crimes
  • Unit 31: Motor Vehicle Offenses
  • Unit 32: Chapter 209A Restraining Orders
  • Unit 33: Drug Crimes
  • Unit 34: Sex Offenses
  • Unit 35: Homicide
  • Unit 36: Juvenile Law


New Lawyers: To help you get started on your professional development path, try your first Unit for FREE – a $50 value. Once you make your choice, choose the red "Select Free Unit" button. Please note: you will be asked to verify your Massachusetts Bar admission date and BBO number to complete your free selection.

This professional development plan takes you step by step through the most essential elements of criminal law practice.

How to Use the Plan

Click on a unit to identify relevant online resources that have been selected from MCLE’s collection of programs and publications. Then click on any link to

  • view a recommended program or specific lecture,
  • read a relevant chapter,
  • select a sample form, or
  • choose a training module with a practical demonstration by MCLE's highly experienced faculty.

The resources identified represent only a small portion of what is available on MCLE’s website. To see what else is available on any given topic, click the “See All MCLE Resources” link at the bottom of each unit to conduct a search for other full programs, individual lectures, chapters and forms.

Ongoing Updates and Additions

We continue to work on this plan and are adding dynamic content to each of these topics on a regular basis, including new programs and lectures, information from our books, and demonstrations. Keep checking back for updates and new material. We also look forward to your suggestions on how we can make this plan the most effective tool for your professional development and training needs.

Other Available Resources

In addition to the resources available through the professional development plan, MCLE offers in-person programming for developing core competencies and providing opportunities to engage with the criminal law practice community. MCLE’s annual Criminal Law Conference and Juvenile Delinquency & Child Welfare Conference, provide cutting-edge analyses of the latest practice developments and opportunities to share ideas with attorneys in similar practices from around the state. If you are building a criminal law practice, be sure to attend MCLE’s Trial Advocacy Workshop offered every summer for an intensive week-long, hands-on bootcamp to help you hone your skills and learn the techniques needed to advocate for your clients.

Note to Firm Training Directors and Law School Librarians & Clinical Program Directors

MCLE’s professional development plans have been designed to complement in-house training and law school educational programs. Firms can tailor plans to the specific needs of their training programs—taking associates unit by unit through an entire practice area plan or targeting only the areas of greatest relevance. Law school faculty and clinical program directors can use professional development plans to identify lectures, demonstrations, articles and forms for use in the classroom, as a supplement to classroom presentations, or to support the student’s representation of clients in the school’s clinical program. If your firm or law school subscribes to the MCLE OnlinePass®, all the electronic resources included in MCLE’s professional development plans are instantly accessible to everyone in your firm or school.