The paper defends an interactive theory of the distinctiveness of criminal law. It argues that criminal law’s distinctive behavior can be connected to the interaction between five traits: it is an institutional practice administered by a large and special bureaucracy, playing a substantial role in authorizing the use of coercive police force, leading to a harsh sanctioning regime linked, at least in part, with core wrongs and notions of personal responsibility. Although none of these features is exclusive to criminal law, their interaction leads to modes of behavior that set it apart from other institutions. The paper argues that putting attention on the effects of this interaction provides us with powerful tools to both understand and asses the value and problems of criminal law.
- Criminal justice
- Criminal law