It is fashionable these days to talk of "victimless crimes", but the phrase can be dangerous for it may lead us with deceptive simplicity around problems which deserve to be squarely faced. If everyone agreed that an offense was truly without any discernible victim, then arguments for its retention would be hard to imagine. But the disagreement is really about whether in particular cases we can convincingly identify victims who may legitimately claim protection. The primitive model of the victim is the individual human being who is knocked on the head or whose goods are stolen. Other candidates for the role of victim also claim attention and invite us to consider what social interests may legitimately be protected by the criminal law other than the person and property of the individual. We shall now pursue this theme by looking at two test cases - cruelty to animals and abortion.
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Graham Hughes, “Who is a Victim?” (1973-1974) 1:3 DLJ 425.