JUSTIFICATION AND EXCUSE

JUSTIFICATION AND EXCUSE George Mousourakis* JUSTIFICATION AND EXCUSE INTRODUCTION A n g l o - A m e r i c a n C r i m i n a l law doctrine proceeds from the principle that a person cannot be found guilty of an offence unless two basic elements are established: the conduct or state of affairs which a particular offence prohibits (actus rea) and the state of mind which a person must have at the time of such conduct or state of affairs (mens rea). Criminal liability and punishment depend, moreover, upon the absence of certain excusing or justifying conditions. Justifications chal- lenge the unlawful character of an act which, on the face of it, violates a criminal prohibition. W h e n a justification-based defence is raised the argument is that, in the circumstances, an act which would normally constitute a criminal offence should be considered right or, at least, legally permissible. Excuses, by contrast, do not deny the unlawfulness of the act. What these defences call in question is the attribution of an apparently unlawful act to the actor. An accused who pleads a valid excuse cannot be held blameworthy and therefore culpable for having brought http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Tilburg Law Review Brill

JUSTIFICATION AND EXCUSE

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Publisher
Martinus Nijhoff
Copyright
© 1998 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
2211-0046
eISSN
2211-2596
D.O.I.
10.1163/221125998X00056
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

George Mousourakis* JUSTIFICATION AND EXCUSE INTRODUCTION A n g l o - A m e r i c a n C r i m i n a l law doctrine proceeds from the principle that a person cannot be found guilty of an offence unless two basic elements are established: the conduct or state of affairs which a particular offence prohibits (actus rea) and the state of mind which a person must have at the time of such conduct or state of affairs (mens rea). Criminal liability and punishment depend, moreover, upon the absence of certain excusing or justifying conditions. Justifications chal- lenge the unlawful character of an act which, on the face of it, violates a criminal prohibition. W h e n a justification-based defence is raised the argument is that, in the circumstances, an act which would normally constitute a criminal offence should be considered right or, at least, legally permissible. Excuses, by contrast, do not deny the unlawfulness of the act. What these defences call in question is the attribution of an apparently unlawful act to the actor. An accused who pleads a valid excuse cannot be held blameworthy and therefore culpable for having brought

Journal

Tilburg Law ReviewBrill

Published: Jan 1, 1998

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