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In order for a crime to exist, a victim or potential victim must exist. Thus, the Model Penal Code states that a defendant's conduct must 1) inflict or threaten 2) substantial harm to individual or public interests. Failure to prove either of these elements is often referred to as a de minimis defense.
The harm is often the clearest when the victim is an individual. The second class, "public interests", is often less tangible, more politically charged and are often subject to attack. Public interest crimes are sometimes called "victimless crimes." Proponents of "public interest crimes" will often hold that crimes are not victimless at all but that the spillover effects of these activities result in real harm to individuals.
Antes del sigo XIX, muchas casos penales eran perseguidos privadamente por la víctima. Este modelo fue lentamente dejado de lado mientras que el estado pasó a reemplazar a la víctima, con una sistema centralizado y público.
The concern that many states either did not have the resources to prosecute criminals, or willfully failed to prosecute criminals resulted in the founding of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This court of last resort provides victim's a final opportunity to seek justice when no other venue exists.
Carta de Derechos de la Víctima
The last twenty years have seen increased legislative attention to victim's of crimes. As a result, victims now have more rights in a criminal case than ever before. These rights may be codified separately or in some cases, collected into one Victim's Bill of Rights.
- carta de derechos de la víctima de Arizona (inglés)
- carta de derechos de la víctima de California (inglés)