Social Expectations in the Criminal Law: The 'Reasonable Person' in a Comparative Perspective

New Criminal Law Review 11 (2008), 1-32

32 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2012

See all articles by Tatjana Hörnle

Tatjana Hörnle

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law

Date Written: May 25, 2007

Abstract

The “reasonable person” plays an important role in English and American criminal law, but not in German criminal law. The comparative view yields a number of differences (for example, with respect to negligent crimes, errors about justifying circumstances, and excuses like duress). Besides analyzing such differences, the article examines the legitimate role of social expectations in criminal law (which stand behind references to the “reasonable person”) beyond the details of different legal systems. It concludes that one must distinguish judgments about wrongdoing from judgments about personal responsibility. The former are shaped by social expectations, while personal responsibility needs to be evaluated with a view to the individual offender.

Keywords: criminal law, comparative law, comparative criminal law, negligence, reasonable person, social expectations

Suggested Citation

Hörnle, Tatjana, Social Expectations in the Criminal Law: The 'Reasonable Person' in a Comparative Perspective (May 25, 2007). New Criminal Law Review 11 (2008), 1-32, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1804995

Tatjana Hörnle (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law ( email )

Guenterstalstr. 73
Freiburg, 79100
Germany

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