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This collection of original essays, by some of the best known contemporary criminal law theorists, tackles a range of issues about the criminal law's 'special part' - the part of the criminal law that defines specific offences. One of its aims is to show the importance, for theory as well as for practice, of focusing on the special part as well as on the general part which usually receives much more theoretical attention.
Some of the issues covered concern the proper scope of the criminal law, for example how far should it include offences of possession, or endangerment? If it should punish only wrongful conduct, how can it justly include so-called 'mala prohibita', which are often said to involve conduct that is not wrongful prior to its legal prohibition?
Other issues concern the ways in which crimes should be classified. Can we make plausible sense, for instance, of the orthodox distinction between crimes of basic and general intent? Should domestic violence be defined as a distinct offence, distinguished from other kinds of personal violence?
Also examined are the ways in which specific offences should be defined, to what extent those definitions should identify distinctive types of wrongs, and the light that such definitional questions throw on the grounds and structures of criminal liability. Such issues are discussed in relation not only to such crimes as murder, rape, theft and other property offences, but also in relation to offences such as bribery, endangerment and possession that have not traditionally been subjects for in depth theoretical analysis.