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This book reports empirical studies on 18 different areas of substantive criminal law in which the study results showing ordinary people’s judgments of justice are compared to the governing legal doctrine to highlight points of agreement and disagreement. The book also identifies trends and patterns in agreement and disagreement and discusses the implications for the formulation of criminal law. The chapters include:

Chapter 1. Community Views and the Criminal Law (Introduction; An Overview; Why Community Views Should Matter; Research Methods)

Chapter 2. Doctrines of Criminalization: What Conduct Should Be Criminal? (Objective Requirements of Attempt (Study 1); Creating a Criminal Risk (Study 2); Objective Requirements of Complicity (Study 3); Omission Liability (Study 4); Chapter Summary)

Chapter 3. Doctrines of Justification: When Should It Be Lawful to Engage in Conduct That Normally Would Constitute a Violation? (Use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense (Study 5); Use of Force in Defense of Property (Study 6); Citizens' Law Enforcement Authority (Study 7); Chapter Summary)

Chapter 4. Doctrines of Culpability: When Is Violation of a Legal Rule Blameworthy? (Offense Culpability Requirements and Mistake/Accident Defenses (Study 8); Culpability Requirements for Complicity (Study 9); Voluntary Intoxication (Study 10); Individualization of the Objective Standard of Negligence (Study 11); Chapter Summary)

Chapter 5. Doctrines of Excuse: When Is a Rule Violation Blameless? (Insanity (Study 12); Immaturity and Involuntary Intoxication (Study 13); Duress and Entrapment Defenses (Study 14); Chapter Summary)

Chapter 6. Doctrines of Grading: What Degree of Punishment Is Deserved for a Blameworthy Violation? (The Seriousness of the Offense: Sexual Offenses (Study 15); The Culpability of the Person: Felony Murder (Study 16); The Strength of the Person's Connection with the Prohibited Result: Causation Requirements (Study 17); Punishment for Multiple Offenses (Study 18); Chapter Summary)

Chapter 7. Community Views and Criminal Codes Conflict (When Code and Community Agree; When Code and Community Disagree; Liability Requirements Versus Liability Factors and Dichotomous Functions Versus Continuous Functions; Criminal Liability Without Punishment; The Jury as a Resolver of Code-Community Conflicts)


Criminal law, codes, psychology, lay intuitions, community values, empirical legal studies, justification, excuse, culpability, criminalization, complicity, causation, attempt

Publication Citation

Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995