The author introduces the reader to issues of essential importance that each lawyer, seeking to meet the education standard for an attorney-at-law, should be knowledgeable about. The author does not aim at consistent examination of all articles of the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on the Bar, which regulate activities of the Bar and of attorneys-at-law. Most attention is paid to problematic issues arising in activities of the Bar and of attorneys-at-law, such as the principle of independence of an attorney-at-law, its significance and dangers arising in consistent implementation of this principle, the author also examines the issues of education and qualification improvement of attorneys-at-law more deeply. In his monograph the author analyses the most interesting aspects of the Bar history (including the history of the Lithuanian Bar), some ways in which activities of attorneys-at-law manifest themselves. A big advantage of this study is not only professional presentation of problems faced in practice of attorneys-at-law, but also the complex form of problem analysis, which covers provisions of national and international legal acts, theoretical discussion of their application and, of course, practice of attorneys-at-law.
The structure of the Criminal Law Task Book consists of three essential elements: tasks for the general part of the criminal law, examples of solutions of tasks for the general part of the criminal law and tasks for the special part of the criminal law.
Tasks for the general part of the criminal law are grouped by topics that students are taught and can be considered as an auxiliary measure for explaining and understanding specific topics of the general part of the criminal law. The book gives exemplary solutions of a few tasks in order to show a student the procedure of solving the tasks, the logical structure of their solutions. These tasks were selected from different topics (but not from all studied topics) of the general part of the criminal law. Tasks for the special part of the criminal law are not grouped by topics, but they cover situations from various cases of both property and non-property character, analyse case law and problematic or controversial issues of the special part of the criminal law.
The essence of criminal liability, in the same way as of any other liability, is determined by the following main constituent parts: personality, society and the state. Each person is affected not only by the community where he lives, but also by the state, which sets certain limits on the freedom of his behaviour. Having become a member of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, Lithuania undertook to respect provisions of conventions, resolutions, recommendations of these international organisations and to harmonise its national laws with them so that in realisation of criminal liability it would not infringe human rights and freedoms guaranteed by international legal acts and the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. It was these circumstances that determined the main goal of the author of the monograph – to show how, in realisation of criminal liability, a person’s safety in the society can be ensured, how his rights and freedoms, interests of the society and the state can be protected from criminal acts. In the monograph readers will find a detailed examination of criminal liability and forms of its realisation, therefore, the book will be attractive not only to scholars but also to everyone, who in one or another way contributes to the development, application and implementation of criminal law and, of course, to students of various higher education institutions in Lithuania.
Each minor is affected not only by the community where he lives, but also by the state, which sets certain limits on the freedom of his behaviour. We also may not ignore subjective perception of those limits by the minor himself and awareness of the requirements applicable to him. Thus, the mechanism of regulation of human interrelationships by rules of criminal law also includes the consciousness of individuals, their will. The doctrine of criminal law says that criminal liability of minors should be understood as a form of realisation of the punitive legal relationship between the state and a minor. It is linked to full evaluation of the minors’ age, their physical and mental peculiarities. But this liability cannot be treated as exclusive, therefore, in order to define criminal liability of minors, first of all, it is necessary to examine one of the most topical issues in the Lithuanian criminal law – description of the concept and content of criminal liability. Solution of both practical and theoretical issues of holding minors subject to criminal liability depends on perception of criminal liability and on the system of legal measures forming its content. Currently, there are certain differences in Lithuania between the theoretical concept of criminal liability recognised by the majority in the doctrine of criminal law and the established case law. According to its content, legal liability of a minor is one of the types of social responsibility, it manifests itself in various forms of human activities. Mutual relationships of individuals are regulated by social norms, which usually enable creation of the most efficient and most dynamic system of operation and development of the society. Therefore, one of the indispensible elements of public regulation is social responsibility, i.e. application of a system of various measures of impact, intended for regulating the behaviour of persons involved in social relationships.
Minors’ offences are one of the major social problems in many countries of the world. In various stages of its development, the society tried to solve this problem by most drastic measures for many years. Having reached the age of criminal liability, by their legal status delinquent children were often equated to adults. The mankind started legally defending children’s rights only in the 19th – 20th centuries. It was in this period that the first steps towards protection of children’s rights were taken. Various groups of specialists viewed the juvenile delinquency from their own standpoint: educational, sociological, psychological, criminological, etc. The most advanced ideas were implemented in criminal law.
The contemporary stage of development of criminal law in Lithuania relates to the reform of the legal system that started in the first days of restoration of our state. The reform of criminal laws took a special place in the process of formation of the legal system. At the same time a new concept of measures of impact on juvenile delinquents to be provided for in the criminal law was being created. One of its most important objectives was to harmonise the national law with international conventions and bilateral agreements ratified by the Republic of Lithuania. All this enabled making an important step forward in humanising and modernising the system of minors’ criminal liability realisation forms, reducing recurrent juvenile delinquency.
On the other hand, minors’ criminal liability in Lithuania is not yet actually considered as ultima ratio, insufficient attention is paid to alternative measures of impact provided for in international documents – the institution of reconciliation of the guilty person and the injured person, termination of a criminal case and its positive settlement in pre-trial institutions, etc. Therefore, it is to be regarded that currently it is necessary to pay more attention to the institutional reform, training of specialists and ensuring implementation and harmony of the already adopted legal acts.
Today, there is another extreme “unarguable” opinion in Lithuania – a certain stereotype of thinking about a minor as being in conflict with law, offences committed by him and the necessity to apply criminal law. People often speak about juvenile offenders as about dangerous and incorrigible persons who must be punished strictly and isolated in special educational establishments. This populist opinion is also sometimes held by persons who create and apply criminal laws. They state that minors’ behaviour cannot in general be interpreted in some special way. The legislator has set the lower age limit for criminal liability, which is an essential precondition for equal treatment of elements of a criminal act.
Evaluation of the actual situation, however, makes one to admit that the minority age is not a fatal trigger of criminal behaviour as thousands of Lithuanian youths live through the complicated period of adolescence but not many of them commit criminal acts provided for in the criminal law. Therefore, commitment of criminal acts cannot be explained or justified only by common peculiarities of this age. However, this circumstance has to be taken into account when analysing the situation of commitment of a criminal act, fault, motives, imposing a measure of impact provided for in the criminal law or releasing a minor from criminal liability, etc.
The textbook analyses the concept of and preconditions for minors’ criminal liability, aspects of legal regulation of this liability, describes crimes committed by minors and their incidence, gives an analysis of international documents regulating minors’ criminal liability, a lot of attention is paid to educational measures of impact and punishments provided for in the criminal law and their imposition.
This textbook is the first of such extent in Lithuania on the topic of minors’ criminal liability. Therefore, it analyses and explains not only the rules of the new Criminal Code, but also discusses the development of the approach to minors’ criminal liability in Lithuania, principles and theoretical provisions established in the criminal law.
The textbook explains minors’ criminal liability not only by traditionally following the criminal law doctrine but also the science of criminology. It is this science that allows looking at a minor as a person subject to criminal liability more carefully, at possibilities of different forms of realisation of criminal liability. The knowledge of criminology show what crimes and why minors commit most often, allows readers to better understand preconditions for minors’ criminal liability, explains the expediency of applying measures of impact provided for in law.
But the study does not cover all issues of minors’ criminal liability at length, for example, the issues of complicity, real and ideal coincidences of crimes, etc. Though they are very important, still they can be explained according to the general doctrine of criminal law. These problems will be discussed later in other publications to follow the textbook.
The study intentionally did not avoid critical remarks addressed to the legislator, raised debatable issues on this topic. We think that it will encourage students to discuss issues of minors’ criminal liability. The case law examples given in the study will help them to better understand a complicated mechanism of imposing a punishment or an educational measure of impact.
The learning material “Important issues of minors’ criminal liability” is intended for students and doctoral students of “Criminal justice” and “Criminology” branches of law studies. It will also be useful for students studying criminal law and criminology and other persons interested in minors’ criminal liability. The learning material “Important issues of minors’ criminal liability” describes crimes minors commit and their incidence, gives the concept of minors’ criminal liability and analyses practical and theoretical problems related to this type of liability. Please note that this learning material presents an extensive analysis of international documents regulating minors’ criminal liability. However, it does not analyse all possible issues of minors’ criminal liability.
Romualdas Drakšas’ monograph “Capital punishment: situation and prospects” offered to readers has come as a result of rather long contemplations and estimations by the author. The author has spent almost a decade researching capital punishment, therefore, the book contains and reflects in sufficient extent (including historical aspects) experience not only of Lithuania but also of various foreign states both in refusing this highly controversial punishment and in providing for it in criminal laws and applying it.
It is obvious that the developing civilisation changes people’s attitude to capital punishment – it is becoming more liberal. It is not only that various states are reducing the number of crimes for which this punishment can be imposed. More and more states (currently, about a half of all the states) have such criminal laws which either do not provide for such a punishment at all or link it only to some special conditions or does not use it de facto.
The idea of abolishment of the capital punishment, which appeared a few centuries ago (bishop I. Masalskis paid some attention to this issue in Lithuania at the beginning of the 19th century), resulted in the dispute, which in essence is not yet over, between the opponents and supporters of the capital punishment, which – usually after commitment of very grave crimes – becomes fierce again, event in those countries where this punishment was abolished. The author of the book assumes that both the opponents and supporters of the capital punishment have in fact exhausted their arguments, neither party has managed to prove the other one to be wrong. After all, the dispute is finally only about whether to allow taking a criminal’s life in order to avoid new potential victims or not to take it, though in that case a certain threat of becoming a criminal’s victim remains. The author probably has it right that in fact it is impossible to solve the problem in any of the aspects. It is revealed in a rather interesting way, by analysing the positions of the critics of abolishment of the capital punishment in Lithuania.
In Lithuania, as you know, the capital punishment has been abolished. Abolishment of this punishment is also currently related to international undertakings assumed by Lithuania by signing relevant international agreements. Thus, return of the capital punishment is prevented both by the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and by international documents signed and ratified by Lithuania, therefore, in reality, at least in the near future, the demands of supporters of this punishment to return it to the system of punishments will hardly be taken into account.
Admitting this fact, the author of the monograph reasonably raises an essential problem: the psychological comfort of many people has decreased due to abolishment of the capital punishment, as they think (and are right at some point) that in the absence of the capital punishment the risk of becoming a crime victim increases. Therefore, a certain alternative to the capital punishment is necessary, which, taming a potential criminal, would also create a sense of security among people.
The author presents an alternative to the capital punishment – imprisonment for life and analyses its essence. It is a particularly significant part of the study. There have not been serious discussions in Lithuania about it. The monograph expressly presents the social and psychological complexity of serving a life term, suffering caused by it. If this position of the author became an object of wider discussions, greater preventive effect of this punishment among potential criminals could be expected, on the other hand, it can help at least to partially restore trust in criminal laws as a certain measure of security for people.
Of course, readers will find many more problems in the book than mentioned here, as well as solutions to them offered by the author.
Thus, this book can be useful not only to law enforcement practicians, who study law, but also to many people, who want to understand one of the most complicated problems of criminal law – the reasonability of abolishment of the capital punishment in Lithuania, as well as to consider, together with the author, the prospects of this punishment in criminal laws of various countries.