Unauthorized Criminal Law: The Legality Principle Meets Criminal Law

The principle of legality maintains that administrative authorities can only act as permitted by law. The principle limits governmental power, hinders arbitrariness and promotes separation of powers, transparency, certainty and fairness; it also protects human rights. The principle was developed in jurisprudence but today wears a formal garb pursuant to the Basic Laws.
The criminal law in Israel is operated by administrative authorities: the police, the public prosecution, the public defender’s office and even the courts, all exercising statutory powers. The lecture examines the application of the principle of legality throughout the Israeli criminal law and shows how it is operated in an arbitrary manner.
The lecture examines a variety of practices which are not authorized by Israeli law: the use of police informants and agents, plea bargains and more. The lecture suggests why the principle of legality is weak in the criminal law context.