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Criminal Law TheoryDoctrines of the General Part$
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Stephen Shute and Andrew Simester

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199243495

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199243495.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 September 2021

Criminal Liability for Omissions: An Inventory of Issues

Criminal Liability for Omissions: An Inventory of Issues

(p.121) 6 Criminal Liability for Omissions: An Inventory of Issues
Criminal Law Theory


Oxford University Press

In Anglo-American criminal law, there is no general duty to save others from harm, even when one can do so at little risk to oneself. The position on ignorance of the duty to rescue is in accord with the criminal law's general position on ignorance of the criminal law. This chapter examines several exceptions to the ‘no duty to rescue’ principle and the host of issues they raise, as well as their obvious implications for any form of criminal liability for failing to rescue others. Wayne R. LaFave portrays the criminal law doctrine regarding omissions as follows: some criminal statutes specifically require affirmative acts, such as those requiring the filing of a tax return or the reporting by motorists of accidents in which they have been involved. Duties to act enforced by the criminal law under statutes proscribing killings, batterings, burnings, however, arise only in a limited number of situations.

Keywords:   criminal liability, criminal law, harm, omissions, duty to rescue, criminal statutes, culpability

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