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Blamestorming, blamemongers and scapegoatsAllocating blame in the criminal justice process$
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Gavin Dingwall and Tim Hillier

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781447305002

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447305002.001.0001

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Blameless crime

Blameless crime

(p.77) Four Blameless crime
Blamestorming, blamemongers and scapegoats

Gavin Dingwall

Tim Hillier

Policy Press

Chapter Four turns to what we call ‘blameless crime’. Offences typically stipulate a state of mind that must have been present at the time of commission; examples include intention, knowledge and recklessness. It can be argued that these states provide some kind of moral hierarchy whereby the intentional harm-causer is seen to be more blameworthy than the risk taker or the incompetent. Some correlation can be found between the seriousness of the offence (and the likely severity of the punishment) and the state of mind prescribed. The most serious crimes, most notably murder, demand an intention to cause the specified harm whereas many comparatively minor offences require no fault on the part of the offender. Blameless crimes therefore exist in considerable number, although it is also the case that the courts have interpreted many key concepts in a way which gives primacy to blame.

Keywords:   blameless crime, recklessness, intention, mens rea, strict liability, subjectivity, objectivity

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