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The Five Worst (and Five Best) American Criminal Codes

91 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2003  

Paul H. Robinson

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Michael T. Cahill

Rutgers Law School

Usman Mohammad



This paper develops and attempts to justify criteria for judging the quality of a criminal code in performing its functions. It translates the abstract criteria into a workable code evaluation scheme, then applies the scheme to the fifty-two American criminal codes, ending with a ranking of those codes. Examples of good and bad code provisions are used in the discussion to illustrate the evaluation criteria.

Keywords: criminal code

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Paul H. and Cahill, Michael T. and Mohammad, Usman, The Five Worst (and Five Best) American Criminal Codes. Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 95, pp. 1-89, 2000. Available at SSRN: or

Paul Robinson (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Michael Cahill

Rutgers Law School ( email )

United States

Usman Mohammad


No address available

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