Beyond homicide? The feasibility of extending the doctrine of partial excuse across all offence categories

Kennefick, L. (2022) Beyond homicide? The feasibility of extending the doctrine of partial excuse across all offence categories. Criminal Law Forum, 33(4), pp. 323-357. (doi: 10.1007/s10609-022-09446-4)

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Harboured between full excuses and mitigatory factors, with its application restricted to murder only, the doctrine of partial excuse presents as both a procedural irregularity and a theoretical outlier. Perhaps owing to its problematic nature and limited reach, the site and scope of the doctrine has received scant scholarly attention. This paper signals the potential of partial excuse as a means of addressing criticisms pertaining to moral injustice at the heart of responsibility attribution. In particular, it aims to set the scene for future theoretical development in this area by dismantling the three familiar arguments against expanding partial defences beyond homicide. First, it clarifies the nature of partial excuse by questioning the apparent dependency of the doctrine on the mandatory life sentence for murder, arguing that partial excuse can function independently of both penalty and offence. Next, it considers the conceptual challenge posed by the notion of “partial responsibility”, before attending finally to the practical obstacles facing an expansion of the doctrine. Ultimately, the paper concludes that the doctrine can apply to all offence categories, and that deeper consideration is needed on the question of whether or not it ought to apply universally.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kennefick, Dr Louise
Authors: Kennefick, L.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:Criminal Law Forum
ISSN (Online):1572-9850
Published Online:29 September 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Criminal Law Forum 33(4): 323-357
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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