Common law offence  

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Common law offenses are crimes under English criminal law and the related criminal law of Commonwealth of Nations countries. These are offenses of the common law which are developed entirely by the courts over the years, and for which there is no actual legislation. Examples of common law offenses are murder, perverting the course of justice, causing a public nuisance and causing a breach of the peace. The various common law offenses are developed using the concept of malum in se.

In England and Wales, the Law Commission's program of codification of the criminal law had the eventual aim to abolish all the remaining common law offenses and replace them, where appropriate, with offenses precisely defined by statute. The common law offenses were seen as unacceptably vague and open to development by the courts in silly ways which might offend the principle of certainty. However, they still exist under English law. In England and Wales, common law offenses are punishable by unlimited fines and unlimited imprisonment.

In Australia Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) abolished all common law offenses.

In Canada, the 1953 consolidation of criminal law abolished all common law offenses, except Contempt of Court under section 9 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

In New Zealand, the 1961 codification of the criminal law abolished common law offences, except for contempt of court and for courts martial.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Common law offence" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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