Principles, Policies, and Politics of Criminal Law

Nicola Lacey

in Principles and Values in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199696796
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742293 | DOI:
Principles, Policies, and Politics of Criminal Law

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This chapter addresses one of Ashworth's key methodological and substantive contributions to criminal law scholarship, Principles of Criminal Law. It sets Ashworth's book within the context of a longer tradition of positing ‘general principles’ of criminal law, drawing out various distinctive features of his approach. It then argues that it is those distinctive features — and notably the way in which Ashworth's principles are derived not merely from the substantive criminal law but also from an understanding of the criminal process as a complex social and political institution — which underpin their intellectual strength and practical utility. This part of the argument presents both an assessment of the range of principles and a more detailed analysis of some key examples. In conclusion, the chapter traces connections between Ashworth's book and the recent revival of criminalization scholarship in the United Kingdom and the United States. It makes some suggestions about how best his approach can be interpreted so as to allow us to make sense of criminal law in an era of pragmatically driven criminalization in which it is sometimes tempting to regard the criminal law as ‘a lost cause’.

Keywords: principles of criminal law; general principles; criminal law; criminalization scholarship

Chapter.  8792 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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