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Criminal Law

Moral credibility

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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

Strict Liability's Criminogenic Effect, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2017

Strict Liability's Criminogenic Effect, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It is easy to understand the apparent appeal of strict liability to policymakers and legal reformers seeking to reduce crime: if the criminal law can do away with its traditional culpability requirement, it can increase the likelihood of conviction and punishment of those who engage in prohibited conduct or bring about prohibited harm or evil. And such an increase in punishment rate can enhance the crime-control effectiveness of a system built upon general deterrence or incapacitation of the dangerous. Similar arguments support the use of criminal liability for regulatory offenses. Greater punishment rates suggest greater compliance.

But this analysis fails ...


Democratizing Criminal Law: Feasibility, Utility, And The Challenge Of Social Change, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2017

Democratizing Criminal Law: Feasibility, Utility, And The Challenge Of Social Change, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The notion of “democratizing criminal law” has an initial appeal because, after all, we believe in the importance of democracy and because criminal law is so important – it protects us from the most egregious wrongs and is the vehicle by which we allow the most serious governmental intrusions in the lives of individuals. Given criminal law’s special status, isn’t it appropriate that this most important and most intrusive governmental power be subject to the constraints of democratic determination?

But perhaps the initial appeal of this grand principle must give way to practical realities. As much as we are ...


Advantaging Aggressors: Justice & Deterrence In International Law, Paul H. Robinson, Adil Ahmad Haque Jan 2011

Advantaging Aggressors: Justice & Deterrence In International Law, Paul H. Robinson, Adil Ahmad Haque

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Current international law imposes limitations on the use of force to defend against unlawful aggression that improperly advantage unlawful aggressors and disadvantage their victims. The Article gives examples of such rules, governing a variety of situations, showing how clearly unjust they can be. No domestic criminal law system would tolerate their use.


There are good practical reasons why international law should care that its rules are perceived as unjust. Given the lack of an effective international law enforcement mechanism, compliance depends to a large degree upon the moral authority with which international law speaks. Compliance is less likely when its ...


The Modern Irrationalities Of American Criminal Codes: An Empirical Study Of Offense Grading, Paul H. Robinson, Thomas Gaeta, Matthew Majarian, Megan Schultz, Douglas M. Weck Jul 2010

The Modern Irrationalities Of American Criminal Codes: An Empirical Study Of Offense Grading, Paul H. Robinson, Thomas Gaeta, Matthew Majarian, Megan Schultz, Douglas M. Weck

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Model Penal Code made great advances in clarity and legality, moving most of the states from a mix of common law and ad hoc statutes to the modern American form of a comprehensive, succinct code that has served as a model around the world. Yet the decades since the wave of Model Code-based codifications have seen a steady degradation of American codes brought on by a relentless and accelerating rate of criminal law amendments that ignore the style, format, and content of the existing codes. The most damaging aspect of this trend is the exponentially increasing number of offense ...


Report On Offense Grading In Pennsylvania, Paul H. Robinson, Criminal Law Research Group, University Of Pennsylvania Law School Dec 2009

Report On Offense Grading In Pennsylvania, Paul H. Robinson, Criminal Law Research Group, University Of Pennsylvania Law School

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Pennsylvania Legislature's Senate Judiciary Committee and House Judiciary Committee jointly commissioned this study of the criminal offense grading scheme contained in Pennsylvania criminal statutes. This Final Report, which was presented to a joint session of the two Committees on December 15, 2009, examines the extent to which current Pennsylvania law defines offenses with offense grades that are inconsistent with the relative seriousness of the offense as compared to other offenses, based upon an empirical survey of Pennsylvania residents. It also examines whether some offenses include within a single grade forms of conduct of very different degrees of seriousness ...