Criminal Law

| January 13, 2020


For each Discussion question asked, she is looking for detailed and well thought out answers. Answers to discussions questions must utilize correct grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. When referencing outside material, proper APA citations must be given. No plagiarism.

  1. Explain the “void for vagueness” test. Why is this an important principle in criminal law?
  2. List and describe three situations where a failure to act constitutes a crime.
  3. Describe the types of circumstances where a person could be charged with a crime based on the possession of certain items.
  4. Define the criminal law category of strict liability (or absolute liability) crimes. Give an example of a strict liability crime.
  5. Define accomplice liability. What are some of the ways a person could be guilty of accomplice liability?
  6. Define, describe, and explain the meaning of the term “vicarious liability” in criminal law.


Criminal Law Discussion Questions

Question 1

The void for vagueness test is an analysis into a law to determine its validity. A law is said to be void for vagueness if it does not specify what conduct can be punished after a requirement is set (Moore, 2008). The test is important in criminal law because it ensures that there is notice of what is punishable and what is not. Therefore, applying it ensures that there is fair punishment for crimes since there is a clear outline of how each law should be enforced.

Question 2

Omission is referred to as the failure to act either deliberately or neglect to perform an act. There are many instances where omission is considered a crime, for instance, when an individual is bound by a contract with other individuals. In addition, failure to act may be considered as a crime when a duty arises based on relation for example, when a parent fails to feed his or her child to a point of death from hunger or malnutrition. Finally, omission is also considered as a crime when a defendant is required to disclose information relating to a crime (Kleinig, 1986). When the defendant fails to act by withholding such information, he is deemed to have committed a punishable offense.

Question 3

One can be charged with crime if he/she possess illegal drugs. In addition, one can also be charged by possessing illegal drug paraphernalia as defined by a state’s laws. In many cases, the drug equipment may include opium pipes and materials used in growing or manufacturing and packaging the drugs. Moreover, one can be charged with crime by possessing a weapon such as a gun without a license (Dubber, 2001).

Question 4

Absolute liability crimes are crimes for which an individual is convicted on account of not just committing the crime but also exuding deliberate intention and mental guilt. The main forms of absolute liability crimes possession of narcotics, selling alcoholic drinks to a minor, and traffic offenses (Alexander, 1990).

Question 5

Accomplice liability is a concept applied in criminal law where an accomplice faces the same amount of punishment and guilt as the principal individual who committed the crime. Accomplice liability is imposed if the crime was committed by another person or if the defendant aided, abetted, or encouraged the commission of that crime. For example, one may be guilty of accomplice liability if he/she turns of the alarm system before a robbery to ensure that perpetrates escape without being noticed. Additionally, one may be charged if he/she gives a gun or the material used in a crime to an individual who actually goes ahead to commit the crime. (LaMance, 2016).

Question 6

Vicarious liability is a situation where an individual is held responsible for the actions or omissions of another individual. This form of liability is transferred whether the defendant is aware of the crime that was committed or not. It is often experienced in situations where the defendant has greater authority than the principal offender, for example, in the workplace. In this case, the employer is charged with the employee’s crimes whether he or she ordered the employees to commit the crimes or not (Brown, 1995). Thus, the employer or the superior is charged with the crime and may be punished by being fined or getting a jail sentence.


Alexander, L. (1990). Reconsidering the relationship among voluntary acts, strict liability, and negligence in criminal law. Social Philosophy and Policy, 7(02), 84-104.

Brown, H. L. (1995). Vicarious Criminal Liability of Corporations for the Acts of Their Employees and Agents. Loyal Law Review41, 279.

Dubber, M. D. (2001). Policing possession: The war on crime and the end of criminal law. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 91(4), 829-996.

Kleinig, J. (1986). Criminal Liability for Failures to Act. Law and Contemporary Problems, 49(3), 161.

LaMance, K. (2016). What Is Accomplice Liability and Criminal Liability? LegalMatch Law Library. Retrieved 7 June 2016, from

Moore, D. (2008). Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude: Why the Void-for-Vagueness Argument Is Still Available and Meritorious. Cornell International Law Journal, 41, 813.

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