Theories of Crime and Punishment in German Criminal Law

25 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2005

See all articles by Markus D. Dubber

Markus D. Dubber

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

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This article explores two central features of German criminal law: its theory of crime, which posits the sole function of criminal law in the protection of "legal goods" (Rechtsgueter), and its theory of punishment, which justifies the criminal sanction in the name of protecting legal goods through "positive general prevention" (positive Generalpraevention).

These aspects of German criminal law are of particular interest to Anglo-American criminal lawyers because they are widely considered to be among the signal accomplishments of German criminal law science and tackle issues that so far have escaped a satisfactory treatment in Anglo-American criminal law.

Keywords: criminal law theory, comparative criminal law, German criminal law, punishment theory, Rechtsgut

Suggested Citation

Dubber, Markus D., Theories of Crime and Punishment in German Criminal Law. Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2005-02, Available at SSRN: or

Markus D. Dubber (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5


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