A Functional Analysis of Criminal Law

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter discusses how most current criminal law doctrines contain aspects that perform different functions. The first two purposes of the provisions governing the definition of offences embody the rule articulation function, the second two the liability assignment function, and the last the grading function. This chapter specifically analyzes current criminal law doctrine in terms of these three functions, and demonstrates that one can distinguish specific doctrines as serving specific functions. It is noted that the incomplete conduct (‘substantial step’) dealt with under subsection (1)(c) of the Model Penal Code's attempt provision requires a future conduct intention.


criminal law, functional analysis, Model Penal Code, offences

Publication Title

Structure and Function in Criminal Law