The Crime in Roman Law

By: Anavitarte, E. J.*

In Roman law, the crime constitutes an intentional act with the intention of harming another, and which is punishable by a penalty. This sanction is what makes crimes a source of obligations, because it binds the person who commits the crime with his victim.

Already in classical law, the penalty corresponds to a pecuniary value proportional to the damage caused, although in archaic law the penalty could constitute an offense of equal magnitude on the cause of the crime.

When the crime was committed by a natural person who did not have the legal powers to respond socially, as is the case with alieni iuris or slaves, the paterfamilias was in charge of facing the consequences of the crime. Delivery of the deceased in mancipium by the paterfamilias to the aggrieved party also extinguished the obligation.

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