The Right Not to be Criminalized: Demarcating Criminal Law's Authority, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Right Not to be Criminalized

Demarcating Criminal Law's Authority, 1st Edition

By Dennis J. Baker


312 pages

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This book presents arguments and proposals for constraining criminalization, with a focus on the legal limits of the criminal law. The book approaches the issue by showing how the moral criteria for constraining unjust criminalization can and has been incorporated into constitutional human rights and thus provides a legal right not to be unfairly criminalized. The book sets out the constitutional limits of the substantive criminal law. As far as specific constitutional rights operate to protect specific freedoms, for example, free speech, freedom of religion, privacy, etc, the right not to be criminalized has proved to be a rather powerful justice constraint in the U.S. Yet the general right not to be criminalized has not been fully embraced in either the U.S. or Europe, although it does exist. This volume lays out the legal foundations of that right and the criteria for determining when the state might override it. The book will be of interest to researchers in the areas of legal philosophy, criminal law, constitutional law, and criminology.


Prize: Shortlisted for the SLS Peter Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship 2011 'Baker's remedy to the crisis of unjust punishment is to locate a fundamental right not to be criminalized in the U.S. Constitution and its international counterparts. He persuasively argues that the time has come to take this fundamental right seriously. Legislatures that follow Baker's sage advice will produce a more just and enlightened penal code.' Douglas Husak, Rutgers University, USA 'Dennis Baker provides fascinating insight into the justification, if any, for criminalizing conduct that is not in itself harmful. His book is a rich resource for arguments about criminalization of many controversial activities in the world today.' Jeremy Horder, King's College London, UK

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Unprincipled Criminalization; Taking harm seriously as a criminalization constraint; The limits of remote harm and endangerment criminalization; The harm principle vs. Kantian criteria for ensuring fair criminalization; The moral limits of consent as a defense to criminal harm-doing; The morality of criminalizing conventional wrongs; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Dennis J. Baker (M.Phil., PhD Cantab.) joined the Law School in 2008, leaving the Chinese University of Hong Kong where he had taught Criminal Law and Procedure and Penal Theory on the postgraduate JD programme. He has also taught undergraduate criminal law at the University of Cambridge and Equity and Trusts, Comparative Law and Criminal Law at the University of Western Sydney (Australia).

About the Series

Applied Legal Philosophy

Applied Legal Philosophy
The principal objective of this series is to encourage the publication of books which adopt a theoretical approach to the study of particular areas or aspects of law, or deal with general theories of law in a way which is directed at issues of practical, moral and political concern in specific legal contexts. The general approach is both analytical and critical and relates to the socio-political background of law reform issues. This series includes studies of all the main areas of law, presented in a manner which relates to the concerns of specialist legal academics and practitioners. Each book makes an original contribution to an area of legal study while being comprehensible to those engaged in a wide variety of disciplines. Their legal content is principally Anglo-American, but a wide-ranging comparative approach is encouraged and authors are drawn from a variety of jurisdictions.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Jurisprudence