In this project, the substantive criminal law of various countries is examined with respect to similarities and differences; special attention is paid to the specific interplay of normative rules and practical application. Hypothetical case scenarios involving the killing of an abusive spouse were designed in order to examine how the scenarios are categorized in each country under study and how they would proceed through each country’s criminal justice system in practice.

With­in ba­sic re­search con­duc­ted in the area of crim­in­al law, com­par­at­ive crim­in­al law is both an im­port­ant re­search meth­od and a cent­ral sub­ject of re­search. In the course of such re­search, new in­sights in­to for­eign law as well as in­to the sim­il­ar­it­ies and dif­fer­ences in vari­ous leg­al sys­tems are gained. In ad­di­tion to ba­sic re­search, com­par­at­ive crim­in­al law is also ap­plied re­search that, de lege lata, either serves to sup­ple­ment ex­ist­ing law or de­term­ines the pre­requis­ites for its ap­plic­a­tion. In its ap­plied func­tion, it sup­ports de lege fer­enda, the de­vel­op­ment of new leg­al policy ap­proaches and their as­sess­ment with the as­sist­ance of for­eign or in­ter­na­tion­al ex­per­i­ences.

Against this back­drop, the goal of this pro­ject, "Com­par­is­on of the Struc­tures of Crim­in­al Law," is to identi­fy the pat­terns (sim­il­ar­it­ies and dif­fer­ences) ac­cord­ing to which the leg­al sys­tems un­der study are or­gan­ized in the area of sub­stant­ive crim­in­al law.

This re­search meth­od ac­com­mod­ates both the prac­tic­al and the norm­at­ive-dog­mat­ic per­spect­ives. A set of hy­po­thet­ic­al case scen­ari­os was de­signed based on a spe­cif­ic top­ic – a wife’s killing of an ab­us­ive spouse. Each par­ti­cip­at­ing coun­try ex­amined the sub­stant­ive leg­al cat­egor­ies that would en­com­pass the scen­ari­os and how the scen­ari­os would pro­ceed, in prac­tice, through its crim­in­al justice sys­tem. Un­der­ly­ing this re­search ap­proach is the hy­po­thes­is that dif­fer­ences in sub­stant­ive law can­not be un­der­stood solely on the basis of the laws them­selves or norm­at­ive-dog­mat­ic con­sid­er­a­tions, but rather res­ult to a large ex­tent also from the prac­tic­al con­sequences of the ap­plic­a­tion of the law. In or­der to study this prac­tic­al per­spect­ive, for each coun­try, jur­ists from vari­ous pro­fes­sions (judges, pro­sec­utors, de­fense at­tor­neys, pro­fess­ors) were in­ter­viewed about the sub­stant­ive leg­al ap­proach that would be taken for each scen­ario, what would hap­pen pro­ced­ur­ally, and what con­crete sanc­tion would be im­posed.