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Making Criminal Codes Functional: A Code of Conduct and a Code of Adjudication

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology Volume: 86 Issue: 2 Dated: (Winter 1996) Pages: 304-365
P H Robinson; P D Greene; N R Goldstein
Date Published
62 pages
This article outlines how a code of conduct and a code of adjudication can be drafted and how, taken together, the two codes can better perform each of the two functions of present criminal codes.
The article presents five drafting principles to apply when creating a clear statement of the rules of conduct: (1) Eliminate liability and grading language. In current criminal codes, the long and complex rules governing the adjudication of liability and grading hide the conduct rules; (2) Consolidate overlapping offenses; (3) Simplify justification defenses; (4) Use simple, accessible language (short, commonly used words; shorter sentences; capitalized connecting words) and organize the material in a way that helps readers understand how the code works; and (5) Track community views where possible. Behavioral science research suggests that people can better understand rules that reflect their own intuitive judgments. The article also includes five principles to apply when drafting a code of adjudication: (6) Adopt a code structure that matches the analytic process; (7) Include all articulable rules relevant to adjudication; (8) Use general principles whenever possible; (9) Use parallel language in conceptually analogous provisions; and (10) Provide jury verdicts that make clear their meaning. Notes, appendixes


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