The Idea of Criminal Responsibility
The criminal law rests on the idea that individuals are
responsible for their actions and must be accountable for
This is the essential justification and rationale for
imposing punishments on persons convicted of crimes.
Society recognizes that certain individuals lack the
capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct.
Factors beyond individuals’ control may lead them to
commit criminal acts. In such instances the law exempts
individuals from responsibility.
Moreover, there are situations in which acts that would
otherwise be crimes may be justified. The best example
of this is committing a homicide in self-defense.