Comparative Criminal Law

Markus Dubber & Tatjana Hörnle, Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law, 2014, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2014

See all articles by Luis E. Chiesa

Luis E. Chiesa

State University of New York at Buffalo Law School

Date Written: January 28, 2014


Criminal law is a parochial discipline. Courts and scholars in the English speaking world seldom take seriously the criminal statutes, cases and scholarly writings published in the non-English speaking world. The same is true the other way around. This is unfortunate. Much can be learned from comparing the way in which the world’s leading legal systems approach important questions of criminal theory.

This Chapter introduces the reader to comparative criminal law with the aim of demonstrating how comparative analysis can enrich both domestic and international understandings of criminal law. The Chapter is comprised of four parts. Part I clarifies what it means to do comparative criminal law and distinguishes it from similar endeavors such as compiling criminal law. Part II explains why engaging in comparative analysis is useful to both strengthen domestic criminal law doctrines and to better understand international criminal law. Part III discusses some of the obstacles that must be overcome in order to engage in meaningful comparative analysis. Finally, Part IV engages in a comparative analysis of attempt liability and mens rea in order to illustrate how to do comparative criminal law and the benefits that might be reaped from doing so.

Keywords: criminal law, comparative law, comparative criminal law, Anglo-American criminal law, continental criminal law, common law, civil law, criminal attempts, attempts, mens rea, culpability, principle of legality, necessity, lesser evils

Suggested Citation

Chiesa, Luis E., Comparative Criminal Law (January 28, 2014). Markus Dubber & Tatjana Hörnle, Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law, 2014, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Luis E. Chiesa (Contact Author)

State University of New York at Buffalo Law School ( email )

715 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States

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