Return to my home page / Allez à ma page d'accueil 

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

François Lareau,  2018

last amendment / dernière modification: 24 October 2023

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

                                 (For--pour:  anglophones/francophones)

Step 1: satisfaction of all offense elements as defined in the statute

Step 2 :
unlawfulness of the conduct (can be negated by a justification)

Step 3:
blameworthiness of the actor (can be negated by an excuse)

The three steps structure makes an human action punishable.  This structure is a synthesis (progressive) structure: no need to go step 2 of the analysis, if step 1 is not present (proven); no need to go to step 3, if steps 1 and 2 have not been proven.

It can be used in any legal system of criminal law to make progress in its understanding.    

It was popularized in North America in George P. Fletcher's book  Rethinking Criminal Law.

The Supreme Court of Canada first alluded to this structure in Perka.

The professors that explain this theory well:

Albin Eser--Germany/Allemagne

Albin Eser, 1935-2023

Communication François Lareau --Albin Eser 1988

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, especially about the distinction between
justifications (eliminates wrongfulness, part II of the structure) and excuses (eliminates culpability part III of the
structure), see 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); 



Ambos, Kai --Germany/Allemagne

Kai Ambos image source:,
accessed 26 April 2021.

AMBOS, Kai, « Réflexions sur la théorie française de l’infraction pénale du point de vue allemand », in Jocelyne  Leblois-Happe, directeur de la publication,  Vers un nouveau procès pénal?, Paris: Société de Législation comparée 2008, aux pages 147- 162, ISBN: 978-2-908199-69-7;  copie à l'Université Laval, KJC 7975 R396 2007; à lire;

___________ "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); also available at (accessed 17 July 2023);


Amirthalingam, Kumaralingam

Amirthalingam, Kumaralingam,
source of image:
accessed 16 September 2023.

 Amirthalingam, Kumaralingam, "Mens rea and Mistake of Law in Criminal Cases: A Lesson from South Africa", (1995) 18(2) University of South Wales Law Journal 428-442 and see "Contemporary German Criminal Theory and Mens Rea", at pages 431-434, available at;  email of the professor:


Avrigeanu, Tudor--Romania/Roumanie

Tudor Avrigeanu, image source:
google image (accessed 30 January 2023)

Communication François Lareau --Tudor Avrigeanu in 2023

AVRIGEANU, Tudor, "Chapter III--Towards a common definition of criminal offence in EU Law", at pages 213-253 of the book Norel Neagu (Ed.), Clara Tracogna, Tudor Avrigeanu, Ferenc Sántha, Lamya-Diana Al-Kawadri, Erika Váradi-Csema, Mirela Gorunescu, Andrea Jánosi, Renate Van Lijssel, Foundations of Criminal Law, Bucuresti: Edirura C.H. Beck, xii, 281 p., , ISBN: 9786061802906, 6061802900, available at (accessed 30 January 2022)


Badar, Mohamed Elewa,

Badar, Mohamed Elewa, source of photo:

Badar, Mohamed Elewa,
The concept of mens rea in international criminal law : the case for a unified approach, Oxford ; Portland, Or. : Hart Pub., 2013, xliv, 495 p., and see  pages 130-134 ; 25 cm., series: Studies in international and comparative criminal law; volume 12, ISBN: 9781841137605; 184113760X; available in part at  and (accessed 7 September 2013);

______"Mens rea – Mistake of Law & Mistake of Fact in German Criminal Law: A Survey for International Criminal Tribunals" (June 2005) 5 International Criminal Law Review 203–246, and see "The German Concept of Crime" at pages 215-220; available at (accessed 15 September 2023);


Binavince, Emilio-- Canada

Emilio Binavince,
detail of photo,
accessed 18 September 2023

Bimavimce, Emilio
S., "The Doctrine of Mens Rea in Germany", in Travaux du quatrième colloque international de droit comparé tenu à Ottawa (Canada)  du  5 au 7 septembre 1966 sous les auspices du Centre canadien de droit comparé, de la faculté de droit de l'Université d'Ottawa, de l'Association  canadienne de droit comparé/Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Comparative Law held in Ottawa (Canada) September 5 to 7,  1966 under the patronage of The Canadian and Foreign Law Research Centre, The Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa, The Canadian Association of Comparative Law, Ottawa: Éditions de l'Université d'Ottawa/University of Ottawa Press, 1967, (series; Collection des travaux de la Faculté de droit de l'Université d'Ottawa), pp. 143-163;  available at (accessed 18 September 2023)




Bohlander, Michael

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);


Christopher, Russell L.--USA/États-Unis

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);

Dubber, Markus--Canada

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); also available at (accessed 24 August 2023);

___________"Theories of Crime and Punishment in German Criminal Law", (Summer 2005) 53(3) The American Journal of Comparative Law 679-707; see paper with same title at;
Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Paper number: 2005-02, 24 pages,  available at  and at


Fletcher, George P.--USA/États-Unis

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); also available at (accessed 22 July 2023);

___________"Criminal Theory in The Twentieh Century", (2001) 2(1) Theoretical Inquiries in Law 265-286; available at  and (accessed 2 September 2021);

___________"Excuse: Theory", in Joshua Dressler, editor in chief, Encyclopedia of crime & justice, 2nd ed., New York : Macmillan Reference USA, 2002,  voil. 2 of 4, at pp. 637-643, available at (accessed 23 September 2023);

___________The Grammar of Criminal Law: American, comparative, and international, volume 1. Fondations,  Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007 see in particular pages 49-55, available at (accessed 22 July 2023)

____________"Justification: Theory", in Joshua Dressler, editor in chief, Encyclopedia of crime & justice, 2nd ed., New York : Macmillan Reference USA, 2002,  vol. 2 of 4, at pp. 883-889, available at (accessed on 23 September 2023);

___________"Ordinary Language Philosophy", und die Neubergründung der Strafrechtsdogmatik, in 12. Lünderssen/F. Sack (Hrsg.): Seminar: AbweichendesVerhalten, vol. IV, 1980, 196 ss.; à lire;

___________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; reprint in 2000; see excerpts ar

___________"Two Kinds of Legal Rules: A Comparative Study of Burden-of-Persuasion Practices in Criminal Cases", (1968) 77 The Yale Law Journal 880-935 and see at pages 914-917; available at;jsessionid=E4B072FC247EC77A63B4E07A568514C5?sequence=2 (accessed 29 August 2023);


Hassemer, Winifried--Germany/Allemagne

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);


JESCHECK, Hans-Heinrich--Germany/Allemagne

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

Communication François Lareau --Hans-Heinrich Jescheck in 1985

Letter of Hans-Heinrich Jescheck to me about George P. Fletcher

Pressing (and holding) the Ctrl key and scrolling the wheel of the mouse allows to
zoom in or out of the web page being viewed.

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, available (accessed 19 August 2021); also available at (accessed 2 September 2021);

__________"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;
 Ci-dessous, extrait des pages 266, 267 et 289:



Les français

Jocelyne Leblois-Happe                                Xavier Pin                                        Julien Walther

LEBLOIS-HAPPE, Jocelyne, Xavier Pin, Julien Walther, "Chronique de droit pénal allemand ", (2002) numéro 3-4, volume 73, Revue internationale de droit pénal aux pages 1229-1259; disponible à (site consulté le 23 juillet 2023);


Pin, Xavier, "La théorie du consentement de la victime en droit pénal allemand.  Éléments pour une comparaison", Revue de science criminelle et de droit pénal comparé, avril/juin 2003, numéro 2, pages 259-276 et voir à la p. 265:

Walther, Julien, «
De deux illustrations de la théorie de l'infraction : l'erreur et les faits justificatifs extra-pénaux », in Jocelyne  Leblois-Happe, directeur de la publication,  Vers un nouveau procès pénal?, Paris: Société de Législation comparée 2008, aux pages 133-146, ISBN: 978-2-908199-69-7;  copie à l'Université Laval, KJC 7975 R396 2007;

Walther, Julien, "Jungle allemande et jardin à la française ? Responsabilité, culpabilité et imputabilité – perspectives comparées" aux pages 509-526 dans, sous la direction de Frédéric Stasiak, Bruno Py,  Légalité, légitimité, licéité; regards contemporains: Mélanges en l'honneur du professeur Jean-François Seuvic, Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 2018, 744 p., ISBN: 978-2-8143-0513-7;

Walther, Julien, 1970-, L'antijuridicité en droit pénal comparé franco-allemand: contribution à une théorie générale de l'illicéité, Thèse doctorat : Droit pénal : Université de Nancy II, Cotutelle avec l’Université de la Sarre/gemeinsame Betreuung mit der Universität des Saarlandes, 2003,  xvi, 513 p., directeurs de thèse:  Jean-François Seuvic et Heike Jung, 1942-; Président du jury: André Vitu; Prix de Thèse de Droit Privé de la Faculté de Droit 2003; copy at Laval and McGill;

Walther, Julien, 1970, "La structure de l’infraction en France et en Allemagne, pragmatisme et dogmatique?", Frankreich Zenlrum, Fribourg-en-Brisgau. 1998;

Walther, Julien,  « Réflexions comparatistes sur les échanges franco allemands en droit pénal général L’infraction pénale : périple d’un pèlerin entre cathédrale dogmatique et chapelles d’écoles », in P. COSSALTER, Cl. WITZ (Dirs.), Soixante ans d’influences juridiques réciproques franco allemandes, éd. SLC 2016 (Vol. 24), p. 239 et s.;


Mousourakis, George

George Mousourakis, source of image:
 (accessed 6 October 2023).

Mousourakis, George, Criminal Responsibility and Partial Excuses, Aldershot ; Brookfield USA : Ashgate, ©1998, vi, 216 pages ; 23 cm. 1855219433, 9781855219434; see in particular chapter 1, "Introduction to the Theory of Justification and Excuse", at pages 7-33 and available at (accessed 6 October 2023); his most recent book is


Naucke, Wolfgang --Germany/Allemagne

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);;


Petrig, Anna

Anna Petrig, professor, Basel University,
image source: (accessed 12 October 2023).

Petrig, Anna, "National characteristics, fundamental principles, and history of criminal law in Switzerland", in Ulrich Sieber, Suzanne Forster, Konstanze Jarvers, eds., National Criminal Law in a Comparative Legal Context, volume 3.1, Defining Criminal Conduct, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2013, ar pp. 205-available at file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Literature_2-3.pdf  and

Pozo, José Hurtado -- Pérou et Suisse

José Hurtado Pozo
image source: (accessed 28 September 2023)

Pozo, José Hurtado, 1942-, "Le principe de la légalité, le rapport de la causalité et la culpabilité: réflexions sur la dogmatique pénale", (1987) 104 Revue pénale suisse 23-56;

Snyman, C.R. (
Carel Rainier) "Kallie"--South Africa

Snyman, C.R., photo reproduced from


Communication François Lareau --Kallie Snyman in 2023

SNYMAN, C.R. (Carel Rainier), 1940-,  "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; available at (accessed 24 October 2024);

Because of his knowledge (which he gains by experience) of the causal processes, man is able to appreciate
the possible consequences of his conduct in advance.  He can select an aim in advance and direct, in a
planned way, his conduct towards achieving this end.  Man thus subjects the mechanical or causal course
of events to his "guiding" or "steering" will.  "Finality" (Finalismus, Finalitätt) is the term used to express
this idea of an intentional directing of a person's conduct towards the achievement of a previously chosen
goal, and finality must be regarded as the opposite of causality.  Causality is the product of the mechanical
operation of a chain of causes, and the question whether a causal connection exists, is judged objectively
ex post facto.  Finality is the opposite : it is by prognosis that a person calculates his conduct by subjugating
the causal processes to his guiding will.  Finality is a teleological concept; Professor Welzel often contrasts
finality with causality by describing finality as "being able to see", and causality, on the other hand, as "blind".
The backbone of the act is the human will, because the idea of finality is derived from the ability of the human
will to select a goal in advance, and to direct his conduct towards achieving this goal.

The directing and steering of the will towards a specific goal can be separated into three stages.  First of all,
there is the anticipation of the goal in the person's mind.  Secondly, there is the selection of the means necessary
to attain the goal and, thirdly, there is the actual achievement of the goal in the outside world. [p. 8]


... The peculiar structure of an act can, from an ontological and philosophical point of view, only be explained
with reference to the will of the person acting.  The will is the backbone of the act, and this is denied by the causal
theory, according to which it is sufficient that the act is volontary.  By "voluntary" is meant that the person's bodily
movements (and the consequences flowing therefrom) are the result of some or other willed act, though it is always
immaterial exactly what the contents of this will is.  In short, according to the causal theory it is sufficient that
something is willed; what is willed, is however, immaterial.  In this way the causal theory is merely interested in
the outwards results of the willed act, that is, the mere causal processes which take place.   [pp. 8-9]

___________"The Normative Concept of Mens Rea - A New Development in Germany", (1979) 28 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 211-220; available at 


Wolhuter, Lorraine

Lorraine Wolhuter, "Excuse them though they do know what they do---the distinction between justification and excuse in the context of battered women who kill", (1996) 9 SACJ 151-166. see "3.3 The normative theory of criminal liability--German law m(i) General" at pp. 161-162.


Lareau, François--Never been professor of law

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.; also in  HTML format at Sommaire - Synopsis (translation)
              and Thèse/Thesis (in French)

       - 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, available at --disponible à


Terminologie ---Terminology

Xavier, "La traduction des concepts de droit pénal - L’exemple franco-allemand", in Sprache und Identität in frankophonen Kulturen - Langues, identité et francophonie -, Jahrbuch des Frankreichzentrums der Universität des Saarlandes, Band 4/2001-2003, p. 149 à 172;  aussi disponible dans Elsa Matzner, ed., Droit et langues étrangères 2, Presses universitaires de Perpignan, 2021; disponible à (site consulté le 22 septembre 2023);

The Three elements -- Les trois éléments

Tatbestand (
Tatbestandsmässigkeit-- Tatbestandsmäßigkeit)---Rechtswidrigkeit ---Schuld (allemand)
Typicité ---Illicéité ---Culpabilité (français par José Hurtado Pozo)
Typicité ---antijuridicité ---Culpabilité

Others words used for element 1
Autres mots utilisés pour l'élément 1

paradigm of the offence
definition of the crime must be fulfilled by the acts and mental state of the accused
establishment of the objective and subjecrive elements of the crime
offence description
a breach of a proscriptive or prescriptive criminal provision
violation of the definition
"embraces all of the elements of a particular crime that are found in the applicable code section"
(Wolfgang Naucke)
"the state or condition of fulfilling the defined elements of a criminal offense" (Wolfgang Naucke)
definition of the offence
the state of fulfilling or violating the definition
act that meets the statutory definition of an offence
the conduct in question coincides with what the Law describes as an offence"
acte comminé de peine
actus reus + mens rea (intention)
acte typique conforme à l'énoncé légal
legal elements of the offence
énoncé de fait légal
satisfaction of all offense elements as defined in the statute
un comportement humain spécifié par la loi" (prof. Paul Logoz, Suisse)
definitional elements of the offence
fufillment of the objective and subjective definitional elements of the offence
fulfillment of the offense deseription
definition of the offence
"le fait qui réalise les éléments constitutifs d'une infraction définie par la loi pénale" (prof. Jean Gauthier, Suisse)
prohibitory norm
satisfaction of the legal elements of the offence
fulfilment of the statutory elements of the offence
offence as defined in the statute
paradigm of the offence
realization of the paradigm, i.e. the definitional elements of the offence
statutory paradigm
conduct matches definition of a criminal offence
conduct as described by statute
realization, satisfaction or fulfillment of the prohibitory norm
conformity between the behaviour of the accused and the wording of the statute describing the offence
human action that realizes, satisfies or fulfills the prohibitory norm of an offence specified by the statute
conformity between the behaviour of the accused and the wording of the statute creating the offence
violation of the definition 

Others words used for element 2
Autres mots utilisés pour l'élément 

realisation of objective and subjective elements of crime
"the state or condition of being against the law" (
Wolfgang Naucke)
act is objectively unlawful
act is unlawful
unlawfulness of the act
conduct is wrongful
wrongfulness of the act
judgment on the act
objective evaluation of the act as wrongful

based on the principle of "superior objective interest"or "absent interest (i.e. consent)"
unity of the legal order (justification can also be found in administrative law or private law)

justification can be the exercise of a certain right or realizing a legal duty
inquiry into presence or absence of a justification
A justification excludes element 2
Wrongfulness answers the question as to what conditions, an act contradicts the legal order
In the notion of wrongfulness is... included the judgment value of the legal order on the act
"embraces all the statutory and extrastatutory general grounds for holding that conduct which is violative of the
------ definition may still be found to be justified, thereby escaping punishment" (
Wolfgang Naucke)

Element 1 + 2 together=

wrongdoing or wrongful act or wrongful conduct/ l'injuste ou l'illicite/ unrecht

Others words used for element 3
Autres mots utilisés pour l'élément

absence of any excuse
subjective blameworthiness of the actor
"issue about whether the defendant may fairly be held accountable for his conduct"
(Wolfgang Naucke)
act that can be subjectively attributed to the actor (Schuldhaft)
culpabilité de son auteur
moral responsibility
reproche de faute
mens rea normative
is an indispensible prerequisite to punishment
(Wolfgang Naucke)
subjective attribution
imputation of answerability   
choosing wrongly
evaluation in terms of blameworthiness
blameworthiness of the actor
blameworthiness of his motivation
subjective blameworthiness of the actor
guilt theory
"guilt is blameworthiness"= "schuld ist Vorwerfbarkeit"
ontological structure of guilt
subjective guilt
normative doctrine of guilt
normative concept of mens rea
mens rea as a reproach ("the intention or the direction of the will is the
------ object of the reproach, but not the reproach itself" Snyman, p.141)
avoidability of the unlawful act
actor must have criminal capacity
knowledge of unlawfulness (avoidable and unavoidable ignorance of law)
judgment on the actor's personal blameworthiness
subjective imputability of the act to the perpetrator
zumutbarkeit ="fair expectability" of loyal conduct
rationalized by a superior feasible motive  = abnormal motivation= actor did not have to submit to the motive of duty=
     humanly understandable but not lawfully approvable
excuse based on a superior subjective motive
insanity=acts without culpability =precludes culpability=lack of voluntative or cognitive elements of culpbability
mistake of law=lack of cognitive elements of culpability
excessive self defence by fear, excuse necessity=culpability is present but ex-culpated=rooted in extraordinary psychological pressure
     on the perpatrator= diminished objective wrongdoing
absence of an excuse
"man's choice to conduct himself contrary to law when he could have conducted himself in accordance with law" (Silving p. 22)
party claims that he cannot fairly be held responsible for what he did

Other terms used to describe Hans Welzel Theory:
Des expressions utilisées pour décrire la théotrie de Hans Welzel

final behavior doctrine
final conduct doctrine
finale Handlungslehre
finalistic theory of an act
doctrine dite finaliste de l'infraction
doctrine of finalismus
doctrine of the purpose-oriented act
final-conduct doctrine
finalismus theory
general theory of crime
teleological theory of action
teleological theory of human acting
teleological concept of crime
theory of purposive action (teleological or goal-oriented action)
la teoria finalista de la acción
theory of final action

Welzel's Schuldtheorie
the tripartite analysis of criminal liability


Other writings on the tripartite structure of an offence --under construction

source de la photo:
Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne

Ballot-Squirawski, Claire, Les éléments constitutifs, essai sur les composantes de l’infraction, thèse de doctorat, Droit, Université Paris-Sud Saclay, 2017, x, 561 p.; disponible à  (site consulté le 27 septembre 2023); un courriel envoyé au professeur le 27 septembre 2023);


Matthias Cernusca, image source:
(accessed 12 October 2023)
Cernusca, Matthias, A comparative Approach to Normative Elements in the Definition of International Crimes, Doctor iuris thesis, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau, 396 p.; available at (accessed 31 August 2023); 

Dinh-Thuc, Joachim, Pour une théorie de la faute en philosophie du droit pénal allemand actuel, Fribourg (Suisse): Éditions Valores; Louvain (Belgique): Éditions E. Nauwelaerts, (by Institut International des Sciences Sociales et Politiques, Fribourgé/Suisse), 96 pages, copie à l'Université d'Ottawa et à la maison;

Herrman, Joachim, Some Problems of Mens Rea in American and German Criminal Law. A Comparative Study, Tulane University. School of Law. New Orleans, 1960, vii, 99 p.;

Jakobs, Günther, "Imputation in Criminal law and the Conditions for Norm Validity", (2004) 7(2) Buffalo Criminal Law Review 491-511; à lire;

Müeller, Gerhard O.W.,  Mens Rea, and the Penal Law without It: A Study of the German Penal Law in Comparison to the Anglo-American Law, Parker School of  Foreign and Comparative Law, Columbia University, 1954-1955, submitted for the LL.M. degree, Columbia University, iv, 156 p.;

Oehler, Dietrich, "La conception juridique allemande de la culpabilité", Annales de l'Université des sciences sociales de Toulouse (1976), vol. 24, aux pages 73-84; à lire; copie à l'Université d'Ottawa, off-Campus Storage, available , Storage ; KJJ 0 .A532l; à lire;

Matsuzawa, Shin, "The methods of legal dogmatics of criminal law from a realistic perspective Contribution", in Matsuzawa, Shin; Nuotio, Kimmo (Eds.), Methodology of criminal law theory: art, politics or science?, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Baden-Baden, pp. 9-38, and see "Characteristics of Legal Dogmatics of Criminal Law in Germany", at pp. 10-11 and available at  (accessed 24 September 2023);

Piotet, Paul, 1924-2005, professeur, Université de Genève, "La doctrine dite finaliste de l'infraction (‘finale Handlungslehre'): étude critique", (1956) 71 Revue pénale suisse/Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Strafrecht 385-414; copie à la maison;
Nous essayerons de nous en tenir à l'essentiel et de nous attacher surtout à l'aspect juridique
et pratique de cette théorie, sans nous étendre sur ses fondemenst philosophiques ou
prétendus tels. [p. 385]


Graf zu DOHNA1 est le précurseur de la "finale Handlungslehre".  C'est lui qui a
le premier détaché le dol de la culpabilité.  Il a observé, en effet, que la notion de
culpabilité implique un jugement de valeur quant au caractère répréhensible,
coupable du comportement réprimé.  Il faut dès lors, a-t-il dit, distinguer le
jugement de valeur et son objet.  Le dol (et, à travers lui, l'acte qui le réalise)
est l'objet du jugement de valeur qui constate la culpabilité; il n'est pas la culpabilité
elle-meme; il faut donc l'en distinguer.  ...
1 Der Aufbau der Verbrechenslehre, 2e éd. 1941, p. 32 (cité "Aufbau").  [p. 387]


La doctrine dite finaliste prend soin de distinguer l'intention de la culpabilité. Elle fait
notamment remarquer qu'un enfant ou un malade mental peuvent agir intentionnellement,
sans être responsables, donc coupables.  Certains auteurs en ont tenu compte et ont appelé
"dol naturel" l'intention d'un irresponsable, pour continuer à appeler dol tout court l'intention
d'un délinquant coupable.  Il faut reconnaître, à notre avis, qu'il est préférable d'appeler dol
ou intention la conscience et la volonté de l'acte, qui peuvent exister aussi bien chez un
irresponsable que chez le délinquant punissable. [p. 389] 

Summers, Sarah J., Sentencing and Human Rights: The Limits on Punishment, Oxford University Press, 2022, see circa p. 27; available at file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Sentencing%20and%20Human%20Rights.pdf;

Prof. Marc Thommen
University of Zurich

Thommen, Marc, 1975-, "Criminal Law [Switzerland]", in Marc Thommen, ed.,  Introduction to Swiss Law, 2nd edition, Zurich: sui generis, 2022, xxvi, 451 p., 23 cm x 16 cm, (series; Sui generis; 26),  ISBN: 9783907297261, 3907297261, and see "Nulla Poena Sine Culpa" at pp. 422-424, available at and (accessed 27 September 2023); courriel envoyé à monsieur Thommen, le 27 septembre 2023);