Genes Made Me Do It: Genetics, Responsibility and Criminal Law

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People in society are more aware of what they think causes a person to commit a crime. These causes range from addiction, the criminal being sexually or physically abused in the past and other bad backgrounds.

Criminal responsibility is a concept that forms the core of criminal law. This is what can make a person accountable for their crimes and justifies what their punishment can be if they are convicted. The notion of criminal responsibility focuses on the person’s mental state so what they knew, thought or perceived at the time. They view the criminal without being opinionated by his background or and any other factors that are irrelevant to the case. This approach is the influence of psychology on the background of the principles and practises used in criminal law.

Research about genetics suggests that this is an important factor in this antisocial behaviour however; it is also incompatible with the beliefs of an individual’s choice that is the basis of criminal law. Genetic science does challenge criminal law but we cannot ignore any developments in this scientific knowledge just for the legitimacy of the practises of criminal law. We cannot yet change the practises of criminal law because there is not enough knowledge about genetic science to see if there is an influence of genes on humans yet.

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In the United States, there have been hot debates about the effects of genetics on a crime and this indicates limited use. The “genetic evidence” is brought into court by the accused to reduce the punishment not at the point of the conviction. This suggests that the impact of evidence is moderate and is being woven into criminal law. The source is recent; it was published on 4 June 2014. I have found similar articles to this that are also unbiased and express both opinions equally. The tone of the writing is very intelligent and the writer uses high order language. This can therefore be deemed reliable.

The author is a Professor in Law at the University of Sydney and the Australian Research Council supports her research. This research comes from the University of Sydney and it comes from a series of articles. As this research is done in Sydney, Australia, I do not think it affects the results because the author looks at the laws that are similar to South African laws. This article also tries to find out if criminals commit crimes by choice or because it is in their genes. This can therefore be deemed valid.

This had given me insight about how genetic evidence has an influence in a court of law and that there are still too many variables to change criminal law at this point. It has given me more knowledge. I will now be able to interview someone who works with criminals and others who have expert knowledge in South African Law. This can therefore be deemed useful. This source can be backed up by other sources that I have read. It is not subjective; it expresses both views of criminal law and genetic science. It is not outdated because research that is even more recent has the same knowledge.

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Genes Made Me Do It: Genetics, Responsibility and Criminal Law. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from
“Genes Made Me Do It: Genetics, Responsibility and Criminal Law.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
Genes Made Me Do It: Genetics, Responsibility and Criminal Law. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 14 Apr. 2024].
Genes Made Me Do It: Genetics, Responsibility and Criminal Law [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2024 Apr 14]. Available from:

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