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Prevention and the Limits of the Criminal Law$
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Andrew Ashworth, Lucia Zedner, and Patrick Tomlin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199656769

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656769.001.0001

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Democratic Limits to Preventive Criminal Law

Democratic Limits to Preventive Criminal Law

(p.214) 11 Democratic Limits to Preventive Criminal Law
Prevention and the Limits of the Criminal Law

Peter Ramsay

Oxford University Press

This chapter makes a tentative sketch of a democratic theory of the limits of criminal law by setting out critical aspects of truly democratic government and suggesting why pre-inchoate criminal offences are not consistent with them. It hopes to show that these principles of collective self-government impose some specific limits on the scope of the preventive law. It begins by setting out some key legal features of the pre-inchoate offences, and indicating some of the arguments that are necessary to justify punishing people for violating them. It then considers the equivocal position of these laws in liberal criminal law theory before turning to democracy and the way in which these offences violate democratic principle. It concludes by considering the potential advantages of a democratic theory of criminal law.

Keywords:   democratic theory, criminal law, pre-inchoate criminal offences, self-government, preventive law, democracy

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