When deciding whether conduct should be criminalised the court must take into account autonomy → this is the idea that one should be able to live their life as they please.

Criminal law is used to avoid somebody’s practice of autonomy from interfering with another person’s autonomy

The autonomy principle also explains why people should be liable for the bad choices they make.

The autonomy principle is not without controversy: it has been argued, for example, that although the right to choose how to live our lives may be available to the rich, this may not be the case for the poor.


The harm principle refers to a theory of crime that an action can only be banned if it causes harm to someone.

John Stuart Mill articulated this principle in On Liberty, where he argued that, “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others”.


Conduct will only be criminalised if the law would be practically enforceable.