Original Paper

Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 187-203

First online:

Victim and Society: Sharing Wrongs, but in Which Roles?

  • Claes LernestedtAffiliated withDepartment of Criminal Law, Uppsala University Email author 

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This paper discusses what kinds of conflicts arise when a crime has been committed, and with whom—and in which of their possible roles—the offender should be seen as having such conflicts. The possible roles of the victim are in focus, as is the constitutive role of the act of criminalizing a certain kind of behavior. It is argued that while in the tort conflict the victim should be seen as a party qua him- or herself in a ‘fuller’ sense (and with full freedom on how to handle the conflict, including dropping it), in the criminal law conflict it is community, the ‘we’, that should be looked upon as the party to the conflict with the offender. The victim should not be seen as excluded from the criminal law conflict, though: to the contrary, he or she is a member of community and has an important role to play. This role, however, needs to be strictly defined in a way that gives the victim the function of a certain kind of representative for ‘us’, the community. This role should not allow the victim much room to influence how the criminal law conflict is handled. The model I am suggesting presupposes—I think, at least—that criminal law conflict and tort conflict should be handled together at the same trial.


Victim Complainant Defendant Criminalization Sharing wrongs Community Punishment