Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 205–215 | Cite as

Criminal Law, the Victim and Community: The Shades of ‘We’ and the Conceptual Involvement of Community in Contemporary Criminal Law Theory

Original Paper


The article addresses the argument, put forward by Lernestedt, that the proprietor of the ‘criminal-law conflict’ is the community (or the community and the offender) and discusses his proposed theoretical model of criminal law trial. I raise questions regarding the legitimacy of such a model, focusing on four counts. Firstly, I assert that his assumptions about the state the individual and the old/new versions of criminal law theory are society-dependent. Secondly, I address some problems with the concept of community and particularly with the proposed conception of community, which seems to mostly exclude the offender. Thirdly, I question the need for (or added value of) such a proposed conceptual involvement of the community as an actor in the criminal law process and theory. Lastly, some potential problems with the idea of the victim as a mere “representative of us” are mentioned, including the possibly undesirable demands and limitations on the victim’s agency and issues of respect for the victim’s individuality.


Criminal law Community Victim Criminalisation Offender State Conflict 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of GhentGhentBelgium

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