Is Prevention Better than Cure? The Ever-increasing Criminalisation of Acts Preparatory to an Offence in Spain


This paper critically analyses the quantitative and qualitative increase in the punishment of conduct preparatory to an offence displayed in recent times under Spanish criminal law. It demonstrates that this phenomenon, which is consistent with the international trend to further advance the punitive line of defence, is driven largely by the objective of punishing individuals based on their dangerousness rather than on the harm caused by their specific acts. It also highlights the serious risks that this implies for the principles underlying any democratic state governed by the rule of law. Finally, the article outlines the rationale for and the limits on the punishment of preparatory acts, which, in the author’s view, should apply on a general basis to such punishment if those risks are to be avoided.

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Published: 2021-03-01
Pages:1 to 14
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How to Cite
Alonso Rimo, A. (2021) “Is Prevention Better than Cure? The Ever-increasing Criminalisation of Acts Preparatory to an Offence in Spain”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 10(1), pp. 1-14. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v10i1.1502.

Author Biography

University of Valencia

Dr. Alberto Alonso Rimo is Tenured Professor of Criminal Law at the School of Law, University of Valencia (Spain). He holds a degree in law (prize for distinction), 1993, and a PhD in law (and prize for outstanding doctoral dissertation) 2000 from the University of Valencia.
He has been a visiting researcher in several foreign universities and research centres: Max-Planck-Institut für Strafrecht (Germany), Harvard University (USA), Università di Modena (Italy), New York University (USA) and Oxford University (UK).
At the moment he leads a research project (DER2016-77-947-R, AEI/FEDER, UE) on "Preventive Criminal Justice and protection of Public Order", composed of 25 researchers from different Spanish and International universities, and he also coordinates an interdisciplinary research group at the University of Valencia on "Dangerous Offenders" (GIUV2015-261). Other research areas include: terrorism offences and fundamental rights, criminalization of social protest, criminal security measures, crimes against road safety, sexual offences, public disorders, the role of the victim in the criminal justice system. He is author and editor of several books and he has published a large number of papers. He has worked as a deputy judge in Spain.