The notions of justification and excuse have, by now, become familiar figures in our structured analysis of criminal liability. Claims of justification concede that the definition of the offense is satisfied, but challenge whether the act is wrongful; claims of excuse concede that the act is wrongful, but seek to avoid the attribution of the act to the actor. A justification speaks to the rightness of the act; an excuse, to whether the actor is accountable for a concededly wrongful act. For all this apparent simplicity, the notions of justification and excuse lend themselves to considerably more refinement. In this concluding chapter we shall undertake to refine these basic components of our system and, in the process, discuss several specific claims of justification and excuse.
§10.1.1. The Interactional Effects of Justificatory Claims. The questions of excusing and assessing accountability arise only in the institutional context of deciding whether someone can fairly be held accountable for a wrongful act. In a system of spontaneous