chapter  5
14 Pages

Victims as Defendants

When Victims Participate in Crimes against Themselves
ByJonathan Herring

The criminal law typically focuses on an individual defendant and asks whether that defendant caused the victim an identified kind of harm. This has led to a powerful critique from a critical studies perspective that this "snapshot" approach disguises the complex causes of crime. Professor Bergelson has made a radical argument in favour of 'comparative liability', taking into account the blameworthiness of the victim in assessing the blame of the defendant. The criminal law should not be disapplied just because the civil law is disapplied. It has its own public policy aim which may require a different approach to the involvement of the law. This chapter explores the theoretical issues, before the author concludes that it is not appropriate to charge a victim as an accessory to an offence against themselves, save in very unusual cases. It has considered the circumstances in which it appropriate to punish a victim as an accessory to harm they have suffered.