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Criminal Responsibility and Partial Excuses

NCJ Number
George Mousourakis
Date Published
220 pages
This book examines criminal liability in terms of the fundamental distinction between justification and excuse and explores the implications of this approach for criminal law doctrine, using provocation and related defenses to focus the issues and with emphasis on the English law.
The analysis includes references to other legal systems to provide a comparative perspective to the discussion of the issues. The book begins with a general account of the theoretical distinction between justification and excuse and explores its implications for the theory of criminal liability. This chapter also considers how the concepts of justification and excuse relate to the defense of provocation. The next chapter examines how the role of excuses in the criminal law is explained and justified from the point of view of different theories of criminal responsibility. The next chapter assesses three of the most influential theoretical approaches to the question of excusing and offers an account of the partial defense of provocation as it operates in English law. It also outlines the distinction between murder and manslaughter and its history and highlights the main problems surrounding the doctrine of provocation. The next sections further examine how provocation can be conceptualized as a partial justification or as a partial excuse and argues that the true basis of the provocation defense lies in the excuse theory. Further sections examine cumulative provocation and the possibility of setting up a combined defense of provocation and diminished responsibility when evidence suggests that the accused was suffering from an abnormality of mind and was provoked. The final chapter examines possible overlap between provocation and self-defense and examines the partial defense to murder that may arise in some cases involving the use of excessive force in self-defense. Footnotes, index, table of cases, and 151 references


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