Criminal Liability for Omissions: A Brief Summary and Critique of the Law in the United States

26 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2005  

Paul H. Robinson

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Abstract

Criminal liability for an omission is imposed in two distinct situations.

First, such liability is often imposed explicitly in offense definitions that punish a failure to perform certain conduct. For example, it is an offense to fail to file a tax return. Second, it is also common for a general provision, apart from an offense definition, to create omission liability for an offense defined in commission terms. Parents, for example, are generally given the legal duty to care for their children. A parent may be held liable for criminal homicide, then, where death results from a failure to perform this duty, even though the homicide offense is defined in terms of commission. Section I gives examples of the first basis for omission liability; section II discusses the second.

Keywords: criminal liability, omission liability

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Paul H., Criminal Liability for Omissions: A Brief Summary and Critique of the Law in the United States. New York Law School Law Review, Vol. 29, No. 101, 1984. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=665242

Paul H. Robinson (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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