1st Edition

Direct and Oblique Intention in the Criminal Law An Inquiry into Degrees of Blameworthiness

By Itzhak Kugler Copyright 2002

    The subject of intention in the criminal law is currently causing many debates among criminal lawyers. This compelling and probing volume addresses two key questions: should the criminal law distinguish between direct intention and recklessness, and what should the law be concerning cases of oblique intention - i.e. cases in which the actor does not act in order to cause the proscribed result, but is nevertheless practically certain that his, or her, action will cause it? The discussion is divided into two parts with the first being devoted to the question of whether it is justified to grade offences based on the distinction between intention and recklessness. The second part deals with offences in which intention is required as a condition for the criminalisation of the conduct and in the context of which reckless actors are not exposed to criminal liability. The book explores the issue of intention from the viewpoint of degrees of moral culpability and it discusses, inter alia, the doctrine of double effect, the possibility that the law in cases of oblique intention should not be the same for all crimes of intention, and the possibility of using a moral formula in the definition of certain offences. The discussion also addresses many other criminal law issues, including the philosophy of punishment, the role of motives in determining degrees of blameworthiness, sentencing, stigma, and criminal attempts.

    Contents: Introduction: The problem of oblique intention in the criminal law. Intention and degrees of blameworthiness - an introductory discussion; The doctrine of the double effect; Possible implications of the debate about the doctrine of the double effect for the issue of degrees of blameworthiness in the criminal law; A common denominator between direct and oblique intention; Degrees of probability; Reconsidering the idea of grading offences based on the distinction between intention and recklessness; Grading offences by using a moral formula; An alternative justification for grading offences based on the distinction between intention and recklessness; Conclusions. A possible justification for enacting basic crimes of intention: the threshold of culpability requirement; A requirement of a high degree of culpability for offences enacted for retribution purposes; Conclusions; Bibliography; Index.


    Itzhak Kugler

    ’This fascinating book offers a deep theoretical exploration of the issue of criminal intention, while being sensitive to institutional and practical considerations. With its thorough, stimulating and illuminating discussion, conducted in a clear and lucid style, this book should become a classic in the field. In my view it ought to be read by all students and scholars of Criminal law and of Philosophy of law, as well as by practitioners who seek better insights into the law.’ Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer, The Hebrew University, Israel ’An island of lucidity in the ocean of criminal law theory, this book will delight seekers of rational analysis. Focusing on one of the most enduring universal dilemmas in criminal responsibility, it takes the reader on a fascinating new voyage of the mental element of crime. A must for judges and legislators, it will enlight law students of all levels.’ Yoram Shachar, Professor of Law, IDC, Formerly Director of the Institute of Criminology, Tel-Aviv University, Israel