Model Penal Code

The Model Penal Code (MPC ) is an elaborated 1952-1962 by the American Law Institute model penal code for the individual U.S. states. In contrast to laws enacted by democratically elected constitutional bodies, as established by an expert panel headed by the American lawyers Herbert Wechsler pattern Penal Code has no legally binding effect. Therefore, neither appointed a litigant on the MPC, nor shall it be applied directly by American criminal courts.


The significance of the code but inasmuch as he was the reason for now almost 40 of the 50 states, according to reshape their criminal laws the modern system and meet the targets of the MPC. While the majority of these forty states built only parts of the code in existing laws, have New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Oregon almost taken over all the MPC rules.

Although the MPC to the criminal law of most states had great influence, it is different today (2008) still partially so much from each other that can not be assumed without further ado by the existence of a single U.S. criminal law. That in relation to the laws of the individual states only slightly significant federal criminal law, is contained mainly in the 18th chapter of the United States Code, has not yet been reformed despite the acknowledged advantages of the Model Penal Code. Also unaffected were the laws of California.

Furthermore, the code in all 51 jurisdictions of the United States affects indirectly, because U.S. courts have recourse, in interpreting criminal offenses on the Model Penal Code developed principles and case law, even if he was not even only partially accepted in the country concerned. As an aid to the interpretation of individual offense characteristics in this case is particularly the multi-volume commentary on the MPC.


The MPC consists of four parts: the first two contain the core criminal law in the form of a general (I.) and a special part ( II ), while the last two (III and IV ) dedicated to the penal law ( Model Correctional Code ). This results in the following structure:

  • Model Penal Code in the strict sense Part I. General Provisions ( General Provisions )
  • Part II Definition of Specific Offenses ( offenses in detail )
  • Part III. Treatment and Correction ( treatment and recovery )
  • Part IV Organization of Correction (Organization of improvement)

Key Features

A major innovation of the MPC is the systematic elaboration of general crime characteristics in a the criminal offenses preceding section. In this general part of the code not only formulates its goals and objectives, but also defines terms such action ( § 2.01), causality ( § 2.03), intent ( § 2.05), charges mistake ( § 2:04 (1)) and participation ( § 2:06 ). Further justifications are normalized (4.10 §) as self-defense ( § 3:04 ) and emergency ( § 3.02) and excuses such as Insanity due to mental disorder ( § 4:01 ) or Strafunmündigkeit.

The special part contains a catalog of offenses which - for the first time in the United States - Crimes and offenses not merely alphabetical strung together, but they systematically divided according to their protected legal interests as follows:

  • Offenses against the existence or stability of the state ( offenses against the existence or against the stability of the state )
  • Offenses Involving danger to the person ( offenses against the person )
  • Offenses against property ( offenses against property )
  • Offenses against the family ( offenses against the family )
  • Offenses against public administration ( crimes against public administration)
  • Offenses against public order and decency ( offenses against public order and decency against )
  • Miscellaneous offenses (Various offenses ) Narcotics ( Drugs )
  • Alcoholic beverages (alcoholic beverages )
  • Gambling ( Gambling )
  • Offenses against tax and trade laws ( fiscal and current criminal law)