Principles of Adjudication: Doctrines of Culpability

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Book Chapter

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This chapter examines the community's views on the doctrines of culpability, which require a particular culpable state of mind with regard to the offense elements at the time of the offense. It discusses offense culpability requirements and mistake/accident defenses; culpability requirements for complicity; voluntary intoxication; and individualization of the objective standard of negligence. The studies confirm the law's tendency to differentiate between reckless and negligent commission of an offense. Subjects make major differences in their liability assignments depending on whether the individual is reckless with respect to the various elements specified as relevant by the code or merely negligent. However, unlike the standard treatment of the codes, which with the exception of homicide generally assigns no higher liability for an offense committed knowingly or purposefully than one committed recklessly, the subjects do assign higher liability for higher culpability than recklessness. The subjects also distinguish recklessly committed offenses from negligently committed ones. But unlike the general code treatment, they sometimes assign significant liabilities to negligently committed offenses.


criminal law, criminal liability, culpability requirements, complicity, negligence, criminal offenses, voluntary intoxication, community view

Publication Title

Intuitions of Justice and the Utility of Desert