Minnesota Law Review

Beyond Crime and Commitment: Justifying Liberty Deprivations of the Dangerous and Responsible

The traditional approaches to dangerous persons are crime and commitment. The criminal law punishes responsible actors, and the civil law confines the mentally ill. These approaches leave a gap: the state cannot substantially restrict the liberty of responsible actors until they have committed a crime. In response to this gap, the criminal law’s boundaries have expanded to include preparatory offenses and early inchoate conduct that deserve only minimal punishment, if any, reflecting states’ attempts to incarcerate the dangerous. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s effort to articulate a test of mental disease warranting involuntary confinement of sexual predators has failed to draw a principled distinction between the ordinary criminal and the mentally ill.

This Article asserts that rather than contorting the criminal or commitment models, there is a theoretical justification for substantial liberty deprivations of responsible, but dangerous, actors. Drawing on the concept of “liability to defensive force” from the self-defense literature, this Article argues that just as a culpable attacker’s own conduct grounds a defender’s right to response, a dangerous actor who begins a course of criminal conduct grounds the state’s right to stop him. This Article articulates what conduct is sufficient for “liability to preventive interference” as well as what the forms of preventive interference could be. In addition, this new form of liability is assessed in terms of constitutional implications, the civil-criminal divide, and practical considerations.

:: View PDF

De Novo

  • Dan’s Flaw

    DAN’S [F]LAW: STATUTORY FAILURE TO ENFORCE ETHICAL BEHAVIOR IN CLINICAL DRUG TRIALS Noah Lewellen* I. INTRODUCTION Paul, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, bursts into a lecture hall, loudly claims to see monsters sitting in the seats, and offers his services in slaying them. The police are called, and [...]

  • Case Comment: Bhogaita v. Altamonte

    EVERY DOG CAN HAVE HIS DAY IN COURT: THE USE OF ANIMALS AS DEMONSTRATIVE EXHIBITS Kyle R. Kroll, Volume 100, Online Managing Editor In Bhogaita v. Altamonte, the Eleventh Circuit recently decided whether to allow a dog in the courtroom as a demonstrative exhibit.[1] Although the case presented many serious [...]

  • Revisiting Water Bankruptcy

    REVISITING WATER BANKRUPTCY IN CALIFORNIA’S FOURTH YEAR OF DROUGHT Olivia Moe, Volume 100, Managing Editor This spring, as “extreme” to “exceptional” drought stretched across most of California—indicating that a four-year streak of drought was not about to resolve itself[1]—Governor Jerry Brown issued an unprecedented order to reduce potable urban water [...]