Criminal Law and Justice

Auckland Law School has a strong team of scholars and teachers who specialise in issues relating to criminal law and policy, evidence and criminal procedure.

New members of the team bring experience from other jurisdictions, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as specialities in international Indigenous peoples rights, Māori and the criminal justice system, alternative forms of justice, problem solving courts and miscarriages of justice.

Auckland Law School offers a number of courses focussing on criminal justice issues, as well as having the capacity to undertake supervisions on a wide range of relevant subjects.

Academic staff researchers and teachers

The following members of staff teach, research and are available for undergraduate and postgraduate supervision in Criminal Law, Evidence and Criminal Procedure.

Katherine Doolin | Senior Lecturer
Phone: +64 9 923 2822

Field of research: Restorative justice, criminal law, youth justice, Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts

Mark Henaghan | Professor
Phone: +64 9 923 5568

Field of research: False convictions including false confessions, memory malleability, confirmation bias cognitive dissonance and eye witness testimony. Children’s Rights including analysis of the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child’s right to express views on all matters that affect them, a child’s right to be free from discrimination and exploitation, a child’s right to vote, a child’s right to their identity and a child’s right for their interests to be primary when decisions are made about them.

Carrie Leonetti | Associate Professor
Phone: +64 9 9234313

Field of research: Comparative criminal procedure, evidence, miscarriages of justice, forensic science & DNA analysis, forensic psychiatry, social psychology and criminal justice, eyewitness identification, interrogations and confessions

Scott Optican | Associate Professor
Phone: +64 9 923 5637

Field of research: Evidence, criminal procedure, comparative criminal procedure, criminal justice, criminal trial processes, police investigations, criminology

Fleur Te Aho | Lecturer
Phone: +64 9 923 7240

Field of research: Māori and the criminal justice system, omissions liability, Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts, international Indigenous peoples’ rights law, Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Julia Tolmie | Professor
Phone: +64 9 923 7837

Field of research: criminal law (specifically omissions liability, party liability, defences to homicide, intimate partner violence, intoxication, and the defence of consent in relation to interpersonal violence) and feminist legal theory

Courses available in Criminal Law and Justice

Criminal Law (LAW 201) is taught as one of the compulsory courses that every law student must take in Part II. In addition, the faculty offers a range of courses that focus upon criminal justice or include criminal justice matters as a major component of the course. Some of these courses are offered in alternating years.

Undergraduate courses

  • LAW 201 - Criminal Law
  • LAWCOMM 426 - Law and Information Technology
  • LAWGENRL 401 - Evidence
  • LAWGENRL 422 - Women and the Law
  • LAWPUBL 423 - Criminology
  • LAWGENRL 425 - Psychiatry and the Law
  • LAWPUBL 430 - Criminal Procedure
  • LAWGENRL 440 - Youth Justice
  • LAWPUBL 451 - Counterterrorism Law and Policy
  • LAWPUBL 463 - Advanced Topics in Criminal Law
  • LAWHONS 706 - Criminal Law and Policy

Postgraduate courses

  • LAWGENRL 723 - Selected Topics in Evidence and Criminal Procedure


Students at Auckland Law School have written their LLB Honours dissertations and masters and doctoral theses on a wide range of criminal justice-related subjects, including criminal law, criminal policy, criminology, criminal procedure and evidence.

Recent topic areas include:

  • Prosecuting parents for omissions in relation to their children 
  • How children’s rights can be accommodated when sentencing their parents
  • Family group conferencing and procedural justice in the youth justice system
  • The exclusion of minor traffic, drug and alcohol offences from the youth justice system
  • The criminalisation of revenge porn
  • The insanity defence and delusional disorders
  • Whether euthanasia should be legalised
  • The distinction between sane and insane automatism
  • Whether expert evidence on risk assessment should be admissible in support of the defence of self-defence
  • New Zealand’s approach to babies born in prison
  • Sentencing for murder
  • Whether there should be a temporal limitation on sexual violence prosecutions
  • The basis for corporate criminal liability
  • Whether New Zealand should enact an offence of coercive control
  • Victim intoxication and consent in the law on sexual violation
  • False confession evidence 
  • New Zealand’s “rape shield” legislation 
  • New Zealand’s approach to improperly obtained evidence
  • Adverse interferences and pre-trial silences
  • Privacy concerns in relation to warrantless cellphone searches
  • The admissibility of prior allegations of sexual offending
  • Whether New Zealand should criminalise non-fatal strangulation
  • New Zealand’s three strikes legislation
  • The criminalisation of cannabis
  • The use of cultural factors in sentencing
  • The relationship between restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence 
  • Therapeutic jurisprudence and the adult Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts in Aotearoa New Zealand