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Abstract

After a chaotic intrusion in the theory of penal liability, imputability can today appear as a classical notion. The general doctrinal consensus is that it depends on a subjective definition, implying the offender’s discernment and free will. Moreover, the notion of imputability is unanimously considered as the basis of penal liability. However, cohabitation between the various conditions of penal liability, particularly between the concepts of guilt and imputability, may not be as steady as it seems. Indeed, the independence of these notions has actually never been clearly demonstrated, for their respective components represent the subjective conditions creating penal liability. Nevertheless, this topic is far from being anecdotal, specifically among several fundamental institutions of criminal Law, in which the notions of infraction and complicity are involved. Thus, the definition of imputability may deserve some adjustments, and imply, consequently, a reworking of the release condition coming under imputability. This study also aims at proving that imputability is an irrelevant element to the concretely committed offence. This specific part in penal liability, highlighting the link between imputability and the penalty imposed in response to the committed offence, enables a wider vision of the concept that could help facing the upheaval resulting from the entry of criminal Law in the post-modernity era. The latter, that one could associate with the beginning of the century’s penal neopositivism, also implied the resurgence of the concepts of risk and dangerousness. The impact of this evolution about imputability may seem radical : end of the unitary aspect of the notion, emergence of the concept of imputation towards legal entities, and even total erasure of imputability towards natural persons. And yet, some solutions to the reconstitution of the exigence of imputability will be developed, not only in a substantial approach, where imputability will be understood as penal capacity, but also in a procedural approach – thanks to suggestions of procedures taking the offender’s psyche into account. In the end, imputability seems to play a major part in the organization of a balanced cohabitation with the concept of dangerousness, by condemning a strictly hypothetical consideration of dangerousness, without excluding a potential reservation after the penalty.

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