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François Lareau, LL.M.
55-890 Cahill Drive West
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada,  K1V  9A4
Tel.: 613-521-3689

last amendment / dernière modification: 29 April 2021

See former link page / voir l'ancienne page lien --
Main Page -- Criminal Law/ Page principale-- droit pénal]

How to understand an offence -- The Tripartite Theory of an Offence /
Comment comprendre une infraction -- La théorie tripartite de l'infraction

Albin Eser, 1935-,
In Ottawa, in April 1986, Albin Eser at a meeting with members of the Criminal Law Review Section, Department of Justice
Canada  gave us a copy of his paper "General Structure of the Crime".  SORRY BUT THE COPY IS NOT THE BEST.

Fortunately for English readers, a few years later Dr. Eser published in English his
"Scheme of the General Structure of the Offense" with comments in
his article:
"Die Unterscheidung von Rechtfertigung und  Entschuldigung: Ein Schlüsselproblem des Verbrechensbegriffs"
in Raimo Lahti and Kimmo Nuotio, eds., Criminal Law Theory in Transition: Finnish and Comparative Perspectives/Strafrechtstheorie
Im Umbruch Finnische und vergleichendePerspektiven
, Helsinki:  Finish Lawyers' Publishing Company, 1992, xiv, 604 p., pp. 301-317,
at pages 316-317, ISBN: 9516405940.

Thank you Dr. Eser for your work and efforts!  
You want to read more about the tripartite structure of crime by Albin Eser:
ESER, Albin, "Justification and Excuse", (1976) 24 American Journal of Comparative Law 621-637;  available at (accessed on 28 January 2008);


ESER, ALBIN, "Justification and Excuse: A Key Issue in the Concept of Crime" in Albin Eser et al., eds., Justification and Excuse:
Comparative Perspectives
, vol. 1, Dobbs  Ferry (New York), Transnational Juris Publications, 1987, ISBN: 0929179226, pp. 17-65;
available at (accessed on 28 January 2008);        

Some important legal articles and books on the tripartite structure of the offence:

Kai Ambos, image source:,
accessed 26 April 2021.
AMBOS, Kai, "Toward a Universal System of Crime : Comments on George Fletcher's Grammar of Criminal Law", (2007) 28(6) Cardozo Law Review 2647-2673, available at (accessed 26 April 2021);

Michael Bohlander, image source:
accessed 26 April 2021.
BOHLANDER, Michael, 1962-, Principles of German Criminal Law, xiv, 244 p., (Series; Studies in international and comparative criminal law; 2), ISBN: 9781841136301; 1841136301, available at (accessed 26 April 2021);

B. Sharon Byrd, image source:
memorial/167433265/barbara-sharon-byrd, accessed 25 April 2021
BYRD, B.Sharon, 1947-2014, "Wrongdoing and Attribution: Implications Beyond the Justification-Excuse Distinction", (1987) 33 Wayne Law Review 1289-1342;

Russell L. Christopher, image source: faculty., accessed
25 April 2021.
CHRISTOPHER, Russell L., "Tripartite Structures of Criminal Law in Germany and Other Civil Law Jurisdictions", (2007) 28(6) Cardozo Law Review 2675-2695 (Symposium George P. Fletcher's The Grammar of Criminal Law: American, Comparative, International); available at (accessed 22 April 2021);

Markus Dubber, source of image: law.utoronto.
ca/faculty-staff/full-time-faculty/markus-dubber, accessed 29 April 2021
DUBBER, Markus, " The Promise of German Criminal Law: A Science of Crime and Punishment", (2005) 6 German Law Journal 1049 at pages 1049-1050, available at  and (accessed 29 April 2021);

George P. Fletcher, image source: law.,
accessed 25 April 2021.
FLETCHER, George P., 1939-,  Basic Concepts of Criminal Law,  New York, N.Y. : Oxford University Press, 1998, xi, 223 pages: illustrations, at pp. 43-92, available at  (accessed 28 April 2021);

___________  Rethinking Criminal Law, Boston : Little, Brown, 1978, xxviii, 898 pages ; 24 cm  at pp. 454-504, 552-569, 575-579; 532-543?; ISBN:  0316285927; 9780316285926;

Winifried Hassemer, image source:
, accessed 25 April 2021
HASSEMER, Winifried, 1940-2014, "Justification and Excuse in Criminal Law:  Theses and Comments", [1986] Brigham Young University Law Review 573-609; available  (accessed on 9 April 2021);

Hans-Heinrich Jescheck, image source: alche
, accessed 25 April 2021

JESCHECK, Hans-Heinrich, 1915-2009, "The Doctrine of mens rea in German criminal law - its historical background and present state", (1975) 8 Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa 112-120;

__________"Droit pénal - Procédure pénale", translation and adaptation by Alfred Rieg, in Michel Fromont and  Alfred Rieg, eds.,  Introduction au droit allemand, Tome II, Droit public - Droit pénal, Paris: Cujas, 1984, pp. 266-279;

Wolfgang Naucke, image source: Google image
search at,
accessed 26 April 2021.
NAUCKE, Wolfgang, 1933-, "An Insider's Perspective on the Significance of the German Criminal Theory's General System for Analyzing Criminal Acts; Foreign Law", [1986] Brigham Young University Law Review 305; available at  (accessed 22 April 2021);; 

C.R. Snyman, image source: detail of uir.
,site accessed 25 April 2021.
SNYMAN, C.R. (Carel Rainier), 1940-,  Criminal Law, 5th edition, Durban : LexisNexis, c2008,  xii, 625 p. ; 24 cm, ISBN: 9780409023947 (pbk.); 9780409033762; available at (accessed 26 April 2021);

___________"The ‘Finalistic' theory of an act in criminal law (part one)" and "The ‘Finalistic' theory of an act in criminal law (part two)" (1979) 3 South African  Journal of  Criminal Law and Criminology 3-11 and 136-144; about the theory of Hans Welzel; Mr. Snyman's first name is sometimes "Kallie"; Hoctor, Shannon Vaughn, 1967-, University of KwaZulu-Natal,  updated 7th ed. of his criminal law book;

Some papers I wrote about this structure of crime

•  "The Tripartite Theory of the Offence", 1999-, updated 2006

•  "La théorie tripartite de l'infraction", 1992-, mise à jour 2006

Some papers I have witten taking into consideration this theory  / Autres documents que j'ai écrit
et dans lesquels, je tiens compte de cette théorie :

- "Why It Is Important To Continue Distinguishing Between Excuses and Justifications", 1986, reviewed 1987

"Le dualisme et un contre-courant dans l'infraction de commission intentionnelle",  1989, revu 2001

"Les mobiles dans un concept d'infraction pénale", 1989-1990, voir aux pages 41-76

 -  "Notes sur l'article 35 du Code pénal de la République fédérale d'Allemagne -- état de nécessité en tant qu'excuse", 1990 

          -   Légitime défense et théorie,  thèse LL.M., Université d'Ottawa, 1992, aux pages 8-33, directeur de thèse: André Jodouin;
              prix pour la meilleure thèse de droit, professeurs de droit du Québec,         

          -   Selected Bibliography on Justification, Excuse and the Tripartite Theory of the Offence/
              Bibliographie choisie sur la justification, l'excuse et la théorie tripartite de l'infraction