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Plurality of victims in criminal law





Multiple victims is a rather common situation. However, it is often ignored by criminal law, which has generally been constructed according to a simple scheme in which the victim is unique. As a result, the plurality of victims constitutes an element of complexity that raises the question of whether the criminal law is sufficiently adapted to this circumstance or whether it could be more so. The question then arises essentially in the case where the plurality of victims is caused by a single act, which leads to placing the analysis under the aegis of the ne bis in idem rule, which has two distinct dimensions. In substantive criminal law, the rule thus expresses the principle of the prohibition of punishing the same act more than once. As a result, the plurality of victims is often irrelevant. However, it is possible to think that it sometimes increases the culpability of the individual who commits an offence against several people, which could justify punishing him more severely than if he had committed the same offence against a single victim. The aim of this thesis is therefore to show that a greater influence of the plurality of victims seems possible and to propose a system inspired by certain foreign criminal laws that could allow this circumstance to be more taken into account and in a way that seems to be in conformity with the ne bis in idem rule. In procedural criminal law, the plurality of victims seems, on the contrary, to invite solutions that would go beyond those that currently derive from the ne bis in idem rule. Indeed, the plurality of victims is likely to increase the risk of contradiction between judicial decisions rendered in relation to the same act because of the multiplicity of possible individual actions. The coherence of judicial decisions would then seem to be better respected by allowing the interests of multiple victims to be defended in the context of a criminal class action.

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