Chapter

Mistake of Law and Culpability*

Douglas Husak

in The Philosophy of Criminal Law

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585038
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723476 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199585038.003.0011
 							Mistake of Law and Culpability*

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This chapter examines how retributivists should decide whether and to what extent a person should be punished for committing a criminal offense when he is ignorant of the law he violates. It contends that no solution is possible without a fundamental rethinking of the content of substantive offenses. Progress might be made on this issue if we model a theory of culpability and mistake of law after the familiar theory of culpability and mistake of fact. This model helps us to appreciate that different mistakes may involve various levels of culpability about different material elements of offenses and thus need not all be treated in the same way.

Keywords: culpability; retributivism; facts; statutes; mens rea; elements; desert; punishment

Chapter.  16419 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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