Nullum Crimen Sine Lege

Nicola Perugini

The axiom nullum crimen sine lege is conventionally adopted and assumed as the basis of modern criminal legislation. Where law is clear and articulated thoroughly, when the space of law is solidly thick and wide, evil is supposed to be prevented and obedience/authority respected—and the evil of punishment is perpetrated according to necessity: the necessity of law. Using a spatial metaphor, this means that only when an act falls into the space of law—into its thickness—can law and its derived mechanisms of punishment can be applied. What if we reverse the problem of the thickness and take into consideration the anomic space of the sine lege instead of the space of the lege? Criminal cases have often to do with the spaces in which they are committed, spaces which until the final judgments remain somehow liminal (at the border between guilt and innocence) and anomic, and which only the law can make nomic. What does it mean to generate practices within anomic states and spaces? What happens when this theoretical problem is transferred into the materiality of an anomic space?

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