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2000

Legal History

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Jurisprudence

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Positivism And The Notion Of An Offense, Claire Oakes Finkelstein Jan 2000

Positivism And The Notion Of An Offense, Claire Oakes Finkelstein

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

While the United States Supreme Court has developed an elaborate constitutional jurisprudence of criminal procedure, it has articulated few constitutional doctrines of the substantive criminal law. The asymmetry between substance and procedure seems natural given the demise of Lochner and the minimalist stance towards due process outside the area of fundamental rights. This Article, however, argues that the "positivistic" approach to defining criminal offenses stands in some tension with other basic principles, both constitutional and moral. In particular, two important constitutional guarantees depend on the notion of an offense: the presumption of innocence and the ban on double jeopardy. Under ...