Principles of Adjudication: Doctrines of Grading

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Book Chapter

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This chapter reviews studies on community views on the grading of offenses within the category of sexual offenses, felony murder, the strength of the person's connection with the prohibited result, and multiple offenses. The studies show that the respondents are in accord with the general tendency in the legal codes to distinguish grades of offenses within and between offenses. For instance, they clearly distinguish different levels of sexual offenses, although not always exactly in the ways suggested by the legal codes. In the case of felony murder, where the codes emphatically reject the idea of grading within felony murder and treat all cases as murder, the respondents do distinguish grades within that offense, assigning lower sentences to felons whose causal connection with the resultant death is more remote. The general notion of grading offenses is recognized as a basic and appropriate code function, both in the eyes of the respondents and legal codes.


criminal law, criminal liability, community view, culpability, criminal offense, sexual offenses, felony murder, causation, Multiple offenses, punishment

Publication Title

Intuitions of Justice and the Utility of Desert