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Criminal Law

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Criminal liability

1975

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A Theory Of Justification: Societal Harm As A Prerequisite For Criminal Liability, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1975

A Theory Of Justification: Societal Harm As A Prerequisite For Criminal Liability, Paul H. Robinson

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All would agree that the criminal law seeks to prevent harmful results rather than to punish evil intent that produces no harm. If one views deterrence as the proper function of the criminal law, a harm requirement is appropriate. To the extent that the criminal law punishes nonharmful conduct, it weakens the stigma and deterrent effect of criminal conviction for harmful conduct. If a defendant who has caused no harm feels that he is punished unjustifiably, rehabilitative efforts will be hampered. Indeed, one may ask: If no harm has been caused, what harm will be deterred by punishment, and what …