Criminal Justice Research Topics for Budding Student Heroes

Criminal justice research paper topics on police, criminology and offences.
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This week’s guide will be about criminal justice research paper topics. This guide is for you if your institution requires you to write a criminal justice research paper. If you are interested in and curious about the criminal justice field, then this is also for you! Save the world (or your own community first) by enlightening yourself with potential criminal justice research topics!

Updated 15 Nov 2018: conducted a brush-up for the 2018-2019 academic year, added detailed directions for initial research after your numerous requests.

   ❓ What Is Criminal Justice?


What comes to your mind when you hear “criminal justice”? Probably enforcers, the law, crime, prison, justice, and etc.

Criminal justice is a system for governments to prevent and mitigate the occurrence of crimes. It is focused on sanctioning violators and maintaining peace and the rule of law. Criminal justice systems vary across the world.

   📋 Criminal Justice Research Topics Examples

Before we proceed 100+ topics collected in this article, let us check the best samples of criminal justice papers, who were submitted by other students. For our experience, the majority of law students achieve the best results when they learn by example. Looking through our vast essay database, we have picked several examples to give you an idea of how to work with your future paper. 

  • Criminal Justice Ethics Turning to history in the very beginning, this paper has a very good structure and allows the audience to understand the way how an ideology divides people from social groups by applying certain ethics. Continuing with the brief case studies and examples, the paper analyzes incarceration and poses a strong question in terms of the values, laws, and the ethics.
  • Are Private Prisons a Problem?This is a paper on a conroversial legal  dilemma that is both challenging and relevant for the society. Pay attention to the structure — the author highlights both sides of the debate. The reforms, the laws, cons and pros of the private prisons implementation – the paper has it all and allows you to see how to address controversial topics in a correct way.
  • Sniffer Dog: Abuse or Remedy?While the sniffer dogs act as a method to prevent crimes, it is still a matter of privacy, personal safety, and human dignity. This paper acts as a unique example of a topic where a student has included both opinions of professionals in the field and a personal opinion
  • Limitations of Contract Law – this paper explores the loopholes that the criminals use to violate the law. Here the author manages to speak of responsibilities of the contract parties and cleverly combines legislation and criminal justice laws.

Now that we have the actual examples and a basic idea of how to write a criminal justice paper, we can continue with the list of the actual topic ideas, divided by subject. Once again, you can see that the highlighted topics lead to the actual essays from our database that mimic the topic idea, so you can continue with the draft and deliver the best paper out there!

     ➡ List of Basic Criminal Justice Topics 

The following list contains common basic criminal justice topics for your research papers. Remember that this is only a general list topics for your research. These topics will give you a rough idea on where to begin your research paper.

If the topic is dark green, it means that we have a research paper or essay example on this topic. Feel free to check them.

  1. Sexual harassment in school or the workplace. Find out how the law punishes sexual offenders.
  2. Hate crime/bias crime towards a race or a religion. Give an example and research how offenders are sanctioned.
  3. Juvenile delinquency and crime prevention. You may opt to write a research paper about the said topic in a global or national perspective.
  4. Forgery. Research cases of fraud in schools, offices, or any institution and mention which aspect of the law is involved in preventing forgery.
  5. War crimes committed by the United States. Or choose any country you like with an extensive record of committing war crimes.  
  6. Cases of police brutality. How can it be curbed?
  7. Unwarranted arrest and human rights. Study the relationship between the two.
  8. Cybercrime in the United States. A legal perspective.
  9. Hazing and gangs/youth gangs in the United States. How are they reformed?
  10. Domestic abuse. What are the rights of the victim? What are the laws involved?
  11. Relationship between crime and people with mental health illnesses. Provide an example
  12. What are the differences between murder and homicide? Cite cases and how do they overlap?
  13. Rape/date rape. Research its characteristics and legal aspects; It is also best to define consent within the paper and narrate how victims seek legal assistance.
  14. How can marginalized communities have swift access to justice? Why is it essential for them to have access to justice?
  15. What is the importance of due process? Cite a legal case.
  16. Robbery. Write about the elements and types of robbery; add an example if you can.  
  17. Arson and fire investigation. How do fire investigators find out if a fire was started deliberately or accidentally? Be sure to research the essential role of fire investigators.
  18. Substance abuse. You may focus your research on substance abuse in youth or adults.   
  19. Kidnapping and ransom. Cite a case example.
  20. The inner workings of the criminal justice court. Be sure to state its importance and objectives— be as comprehensive as you can. 

We also have 100+ Probation and Parole Research & Essay ideas you will want to see. They were created by private law tutors and our Geeks who help Bachelor and Master students with legal studies. Check them now for free on our blog! 

     ➡ Controversial Criminal Justice Topics

Who likes a little controversy in their research papers?

Controversial topics present two or more opposite opinions, which conflict in their proposed way to resolve some legal issue. Controversy is a catalyst for debate

I think adding a controversial twist makes researching and more fun. You might possibly encounter topics you may find controversial in other sections of the guide. The following list presents common controversial topics in criminal justice.

  1. Rehab vs. reform.  Is one more effective than the other? Be sure to go into details.
  2. Capital punishment/death penalty in the justice system. Is it effective to prevent crime? Justify your answer.
  3. Insanity and the law. Be sure to tackle insanity from a legal perspective.
  4. Police shootings: Research cases of police shootings in your own country and try to find a common denominator of its causes.
  5. Rape culture and the victim’s rights. The truth about rape culture and rape cases.
  6. Pornography as a form of sexual violence. In your opinion, do you think it’s a form of sexual violence?
  7. Prisoners being granted the right to work. A legal and human rights perspective.
  8. Carrying a concealed weapon. An explorative study of cases of concealed weapons and criminal codes in various states.  
  9. Research on the presence of racism in the current justice system. Give statistics and support your claims with examples.
  10. Prison rape and violence. Cite statistics to make your research more credible.
  11. Restorative justice for offenders: How effective is restorative justice?
  12. Enforcement and effectiveness of stalking laws. Are they effective enough to prevent it from happening?
  13. A controversy surrounding the legalization of prostitution. An objective study that explores various perspectives.
  14. Plea agreement/bargain. Include its types and process.
  15. False accusation. How can a person defend himself/herself?
  16. Planted evidence. How can a person defend himself/herself from accusations?
  17. The use or control of firearms: What we need to know about gun control in the United States.
  18. Is an eyewitness testimony effective? Argumentative research.
  19. War on drugs. Does it help address the issue of drugs in one country?
  20. Overcriminalization and undercriminalization in the United States. Do these affect society? 

Of course, it’s not the end of the topics on law and justice you can explore. Below, you will find even more narrow ideas for your legal research. ⬇Criminal justice research topics adviser woman.

Having no right topic is OK in criminal justice research. Every issue is expected to have a robust analysis with many cases attached.

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     ➡ Current Criminal Justice Topics

These are the topics in criminal justice that I found timely in today’s world. There might also be topics from the previous categories that can be considered as current.

  1. Sexual abuse and exploitation committed by United Nations peacekeepers. Include data and narratives for this particular research.
  2. Zero tolerance policy and the reduction of crime. Write about its advantages and disadvantages, and relate it to crime reduction
  3. Gun violence prevention and gun control. A case study
  4. Human/arms/drug trafficking. Another case study.
  5. Criminal justice reform. Research your country’s criminal justice system, identify its flaws and enumerate ways you can reform it.
  6. Study the relationship between organized crime and political corruption. A legal perspective
  7. Child support and incarcerated parents. You have the option to focus on single parents.
  8. People with mental health illnesses in the criminal justice system. Cite legal cases as examples.
  9. Juvenile detention reform. As a student, what changes will you implement in the juvenile detention system?
  10. Efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. Consider this as a critique of your country’s criminal justice system.
  11. Youth offenders and boot camps. Does a boot camp prevent the youth from reoffending?
  12. What are the current issues or challenges facing the current criminal justice system? Do you think these issues or problems will be addressed someday?
  13. What are the current issues plaguing the American law enforcement? How can these issues be addressed?
  14. Abuse of power by officials in the criminal justice system. Give narrative accounts of abuse of power committed by officials.
  15. Criminal justice issues in a state (Ex: Texas). What can you do to make the criminal justice system in your state better?

     ➡ Criminology Topics

Criminology is the study of the causes and consequences of criminal behavior at the individual and societal level. It is also a field in behavioral science and social science. Here are general topics for your criminology research paper:

criminology research paper topics

  1. Causes and motivations for terrorism? Be sure to state how terrorism can be an instrument for global conflict.
  2. Cases of fraud in the scientific field. Simple— research a few cases and try to find common ground between them.
  3. Tackle the relationship between identity theft and social media.
  4. Art crimes such as antiquities trafficking or art theft. Choose any art crime and expound on it.
  5. Racial profiling in the United States. You can state why it’s a violation of human rights.
  6. Drunk driving and killing someone. Be sure to include penalties and criminal charges.
  7. Cyber Criminology. Explore the topic and mention its significance today.
  8. Comprehensive research on male or female serial killers. You can choose to focus on either male or female serial killers… or both.
  9. Child maltreatment and criminal behavior: Does a maltreated child cause him/her to commit crimes?
  10. How is domestic abuse portrayed in the media? Don’t hesitate to critique the way media depicts domestic abuse.  
  11. The exposure of children to violence: Do you think this prompts them to be violent?
  12. A critique of criminology theories. What do you think are the flaws in your chosen criminology theory/theories?
  13. Violence against the homeless. Give examples to strengthen your arguments.
  14. A study on crimes against animals/animal cruelty. A green criminology perspective.
  15. Elder abuse in nursing homes. As usual, it is best to start off your paper with statistics.
  16. Community correction amongst youths. Is it effective or are there other ways to reform the youths into better people?
  17. The fight for a more lawful and peaceful society. As a student, how can you make your community a better place to live?
  18. How do former prisoners integrate into society? You may research for examples.
  19. Explore the relationship between unemployment and crime in the United States.
  20. The relationship between intelligence and crime. Do individuals with high or low IQ have a higher chance of engaging in crime?

     ➡ Criminology Research Proposal Topics

The topics I enumerated earlier can be used for criminology research proposal papers. However, I will be introducing another batch of topics to give you more ideas for your papers.

  1. An analytical research paper on the relationship between crime and aggression.
  2. Internet and mental health issues (Ex: suicide or depression). It’s best to structure this topic as a case study.
  3. The relationship between violence and mental health. Another topic for you to explore, and cite an example if possible.
  4. The use of torture and other forms of violence to criminals. Begin with the history of torture and mention why it violates human rights.  
  5. The validity or invalidity of the Rational Choice theory. It’s a critique of the said theory
  6. Violence and crime: Is it a product of nature or nurture? Or both?
  7. Does examining criminal behavior reduce the occurrence of crimes? Support your arguments with academic sources.
  8. Trends in the criminology field. Compare and contrast the current trends in criminology with that of the past.
  9. Feminist criminology. Write about its basis, limitations, theories, and critiques.
  10. Dysfunctional families and crime. Is this actually the root cause of crimes? Justify your argument.

     ➡ Criminal Law Topics

Criminal law is a body of law used to address deviant behaviors that threaten the safety of people and society. Some examples of deviant behaviors are murder, theft, and rape. The federal and state government may initiate the case. The latter is decided by a jury. The person is punished by imprisonment or by paying a fine.

  1. False Confessions. What are the causes and consequences of false confessions?
  2. Insanity defense. Its advantages and disadvantages.
  3. Double jeopardy. Define and provide an example.
  4. Mens rea. It’s the same with the previous topic.
  5. Jury selection. Study its definition and process.
  6. Jailhouse informants. Write a research case study about it.
  7. Felony defense. Again, write a case study on the said topic.  
  8. Fake I.D. and under-age drinking amongst students. Why do you think fake I.D.’s are a concern?
  9. Stalking. Are stalking laws enforced effectively in a state?
  10. How does cyberlaw contribute to the overall security of the state?  
  11. Intellectual property law/copyright law. Define and enumerate the problems surrounding intellectual property law/copyright law.
  12. International criminal law. Evaluate it.
  13. Socioeconomic offenses. Define each type of offense and give an example.
  14. Battered woman syndrome. Describe it and mention a case example.
  15. How competent is the international criminal court? Support your argument with facts and analysis.
  16. Interrogation by police officers. How does police interrogation work?
  17. Jury nullification. Mention its history in the United States, study how it works, enumerate case examples.  
  18. Criminal forfeiture vs. civil forfeiture. Compare and contrast the two.
  19. Presumption of Innocence or “innocent until proven guilty.” Cite cases.
  20. Actus reus and mens rea. Compare, contrast, and provide examples.

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     ➡ International Criminal Law Topics

I’ve mentioned international criminal law previously. However, let us refresh what does this branch of the legal studies imply.

The international criminal law is defined as a set of norms and conduct to prevent crimes and atrocities committed at the international level.

Some examples of the crimes mentioned above are genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression. I believe it is right for me to provide a set of topics catered to international criminal law.

  1. The role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the fight against crimes against humanity. You may give examples to support the ICC’s role.
  2. International intervention. Define and analyze its effectivity by enumerating examples.
  3. War crimes or crimes against humanity committed by a certain country. How are states tried?
  4. Plea bargaining in international criminal law. Give a case example.
  5. International justice and peace. You can write about how countries and international organizations alike can make the world more just and peaceful.
  6. International justice and human rights violations. What constitutes a just society in the global context?
  7. An explorative study on the international criminal law. Its history, sources, and objectives.
  8. International criminal law treaties. Research on various international criminal law treaties and tell your reader what they are about.
  9. International crimes and the role of domestic criminal law. It’s self-explanatory, all you have to do is study how domestic criminal law prosecutes international crimes.
  10. A feminist view of the international criminal law. You have to employ a feminist perspective.
  11. Women and international criminal law. Similar to the previous topic, you have to analyze it through a feminist perspective and study the role of women.
  12. Selected international criminal law cases. Research and provide your opinion.
  13. Gender justice and gender equality in a country. Choose one country and how it contributes to gender justice and equality on a global scale.
  14. International criminal tribunals (Ex: Rwanda). Or choose any criminal tribunals you are interested in tackling.
  15. Human rights situation in a particular country. Give statistics and describe the country’s human rights situation.  
  16. Controversial decisions made by the ICC, ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia), and the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda). Why are they controversial in your opinion?
  17. Child soldiers in Africa. Facts, history, and the reasons behind their recruitment.
  18. Sexual violence/ offense and international criminal law. How are these issues tried in the international criminal court?
  19. Cybercrime and international criminal law. Its legal standing as a transnational, national, or international issue in today’s world.
  20. Transnational crimes. Facts and cases.

What a comprehensive list of topics!

I hope my guide gave you ideas for your criminal justice research paper. Please remember to look at previous studies done by researchers related to your chosen topic.

Be a good steward and make the world (or your own community) a better place! Cheers and till the next guide, folks!

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