Addiction and Criminal Responsibility

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter begins with the story of Mr. Leroy Powell, a genuine addict whose criminal responsibility was addressed in a popular Supreme Court case in 1968. This story is presented to lay the groundwork for the issues addressed in this chapter. It is determined how and in what cases addiction affects criminal responsibility, after identifying the criteria for compulsion and the criteria for criminal responsibility. The question is also asked whether the law should adopt a medicalized view of addiction or not. It is also shown that the criteria for criminal responsibility, like that for addiction, are all behavioral, suggesting that any scientific information about addiction must be “translated” into the law’s psychological criteria.


criminal responsibility, Mr. Leroy Powell, addict, criteria for compulsion, medicalized view

Publication Title

Addiction and Responsibility